(Right Country) – The Justice Department has fired off a warning for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, via letter, stating that his current order banning church services places an “unfair burden” on religious institutions.
Amen to that!
The God of the Bible commands that those who have faith in Christ meet together regularly to worship Him. This isn’t optional. It’s right there in print. So, forbidding Christians from expressing that worship is a violation of God’s commands, as well as the First Amendment that protects our right to do just that.
Now some might say that churches should meet online. I’m okay with that. I’m also okay with churches meeting in parking lots and having worship in their vehicles. What’s not okay is not allowing churches to make these decisions for themselves. And that’s what Newsom has done with his order. He’s stripped the church of her right to decide for herself.
Here’s more from Washington Examiner:
The letter, sent by the department’s Civil Rights Division, expressed concerns that Newsom’s still undetermined opening date for churches amounted to “unequal treatment of faith communities,” and urged that the governor bump up houses of worship from phase two to phase three of his five-stage opening plan. California is currently in phase two.
“Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” wrote Eric Dreiband, the lead attorney in a team assembled by Attorney General William Barr to examine religious liberty disputes amid state shutdown orders.
Dreiband noted that it appeared unfair that churches should have to close when other “essential” businesses were allowed to remain open.
“This facially discriminates against religious exercise,” he said. “California has not shown why interactions in offices and studios of the entertainment industry, and in-person operations to facilitate nonessential ecommerce, are included on the list as being allowed with social distancing where telework is not practical, while gatherings with social distancing for purposes of religious worship are forbidden, regardless of whether remote worship is practical or not.”
This marks the third time that the DOJ has had to get involved in a religious liberty issue during the coronavirus pandemic. The first time around was when Barr filed a statement of interest involving a case in Mississippi where a congregation defied an order that prevented them from having a drive-in service. That, of course, is ridiculous.
The second instance is when DOJ officials supported a church from Virginia that filed a lawsuit against Gov. Ralph Northam over the right to hold in-person services.
A growing number of California churches have opposed Newsom’s order, especially as it remains unclear when they will be allowed to open. And although several churches have sued the state, judges have consistently upheld his orders, declaring them constitutional. A movement of churches, arguing that Newsom has “overstepped” his authority, have vowed to reopen on May 31, no matter what the governor says.
The push to reopen is being led by evangelical congregations, many of whom have been the plaintiffs in lawsuits against Newsom. Large denominations, such as the Catholic Church and the Episcopalian Church, have said that they are complying with Newsom’s orders.
Newsom said during a Monday press conference that churches will likely be allowed to ease back into in-person services, provided he sees a negative turn in infection rates and hospitalizations.
“I want to just express my deep admiration to the faith community and the need and desire to know when their congregants can once again start coming back to the pews, coming back together,” he said.
Again, the rights of the church to meet and worship come from God and from His Word. These are not rights granted by the federal government. If they were granted by the government, they would have the right to take them away. The Constitution is protection of that right, not the grantor of that right. Big difference.
It’s great to see the DOJ taking a stand in favor of religious liberty. President Trump and his administration have really had the back of the church during this pandemic and that won’t be forgotten come election time.