Due to the coronavirus, most States within the US have a “stay-in home” order. Now, 39 Governors have adopted the “stay-in home” order in hopes of slowing the corona pandemic. However, 11 states have yet to adopt the “stay-in home” order. Confused?? Well, me too.
The only standard with “stay-in home” orders – each state declared some businesses essential & some non-essential. The essential businesses we all know – grocery/pet stores, gas stations, home improvement, pharmacies/medicinal marijuana, banks, laundry, lodging , auto supply/repair, health care, restaurants (take/delivery only), & alcohol stores.
The inconsistencies are that some states list church or religious gathering as essential; and other states list religious gathering as non-essential. Some states limit gathering to 5; some limit to 10; and some limit to 50. Moreover, despite repeated warnings from health experts about the risk of social interaction, four states exempted religious gathers from the order completely.
- Michigan “stay-in home” bans gatherings of 50 or more. But the ban exempts houses of worship. Governor Whitner further said to Fox News, “That’s an area we don’t have the ability to directly enforce or control.”
- Kansas “stay-in home” bans more than 10 people. Its ban also exempted houses of worship as long as congregants engage in appropriate social distancing.
- Ohio “stay-in home” ban went further by allowing exemptions for religious gatherings, including weddings and funerals. Additionally, the order reads, “exemption for any gathering for the purpose of the expression of First Amendment protected speech.”
- New Mexico “stay-in home” bans 5 or more but excludes those “congregated in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship.”
- I have no idea how any governor can list religion/church gathering as non-essential.
- Who do religious people call on in their time of need or in these scary times? Certainly, not their government officials.
- How can alcohol stores be listed as essential but religious gathering as non-essential?
Due to this confusion or perhaps in spite of it, two Pastors were arrested and will be fine for not complying with the “stay-in home” gathering limits. Rodney Howard-Browne, Pastor of The River Church, has been charged with two counts of unlawful assembly and a violation of health emergency rules in Tampa (Hillsborough County).
His attorney, Mat Staver said, the “church took extra health precautions for its services; and the church gave each attendee hand sanitizer, had its staffers wear gloves and enforced a six-foot distance between family groups in the auditorium.”
On the Churches’ website:
“The Church is a place where people turn for help and for comfort in a climate of fear and uncertainty. In a time of crisis, people are fearful and in need of comfort and community.”
Tony Spell, of Life Tabernacle Church in Louisiana, received summonses for six services as the State has an order against more than 50. The Rev. Tony Spell told CNN, “If they close every door in this city, then I will close my doors. But you can’t say the retailers are essential but the church is not. That is a persecution of the faith.”
- For some, religious gathering or spiritual nourishment is just as essential as food, medication, or exercise.
- Clearly, different Governors see essential & non-essential businesses differently.
- Clearly, different Governors see the “stay-in home” orders differently as 11 states have no such order.
- Some governors have allowed different cities or counties within their state to make its own decision. Therefore, some residents within the same state are “stay-in home” & some are not.
- How do you expect people to be on the same page when the leaders signing such orders are not on same page?
- Penalizing the Pastors for having church but not the parishioners for going is counterproductive. All know about the gathering order and social distancing; clearly, they feel a great need. Punish no one.
These inconsistencies require a part 2. A tease; yesterday, the Mayor of Cumming Georgia stopped completely social distancing. “Effective immediately I have rescinded the social distancing order that took effect on the morning of April 1, 2020”
https://thecrimereport.org/2020/03/31/tampa-pastor-arrested-for-violating-safer-at-home-orde; https://www.fox13news.com/news/tampa-megachurch-pastor-arrested-after-leading-packed-services-despite-safer-at-home-orders; https://abcnews.go.com/Health/states-crack-gatherings-due-coronavirus-exemptions-religious-groups/story?id=69847021