On Palm Sunday, Lighthouse Fellowship had conducted a worship service with a congregation of 16 people practicing so-called social distancing in a facility that seats more than 200.
As reported by Liberty Counsel, “a local police officer entered the church. He gave no introduction and did not ask for the pastor. He abruptly said they could not have more than 10 people spaced six feet apart.”
After the service, “two police officers entered the church in full mask and gloves and asked to speak with the pastor. They issued Pastor Wilson a summons and informed him that if he had service on Easter, and if more than ten people attended, everyone would receive the same summons.”
“Because the executive orders prohibit Lighthouse’s sixteen-person, socially distanced gathering in a 225-seat church but allow similar secular conduct, such as a gathering of 16 lawyers in a large law firm conference room, the governor’s executive orders may constitute a violation of the church’s constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion,” the DOJ stated.
“The Commonwealth of Virginia has offered no good reason for refusing to trust congregants who promise to use care in worship in the same way it trusts accountants, lawyers, and other workers to do the same,” he pointed out.
I agree the employees are at risk – which is why so many stores are installing things like plexiglass shields.
While you may be spending an hour in the store, you are not spending it in one spot, near others who may be infected with the virus. Everyone is moving, and everyone is wearing a mask. (I’ve seen a lot of suggestions on this forum that we shouldn’t be expected to wear masks at Mass)
When you are sitting in one place, especially in a building with an HVAC system, you are much more at risk for contracting the disease than when you are moving through a large space.
Ending abortion is the most important issue for Catholics in elections but religious liberty issues like this are also high on the list as reason to vote for President Trump/Republican. The two issues are closely tied together anyway, as much of the anti Catholicism directed towards Catholics is because of the Church following Jesus’ teachings on contraception, abortion, marriage, etc…the five Catholic non negotiables.
The DOJ is giving the cop/ state the smackdown, so I’m not sure what the concern is here. This will likely end well for the church and might even protect churches in many other states. Our Constitution works.
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