(UnitedVoice.com) – When stay-at-home orders and business closures were ordered in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, churches readily complied with the requests. Like any other entity, religious leaders wanted to ensure the safety of their congregations.
However, as the pandemic stretched on, it became evident churches were not being treated with the respect that the First Amendment gives them. While large box retailers were considered essential businesses, in some states, churches weren’t even allowed to hold outdoor Easter services while practicing social distancing measures.
“[S]tate officials cannot block religious speech while allowing protests simply because the states think the protest speech is more valuable.” – @HawleyMO to Attorney General Barr https://t.co/XYKY3PZpiC
— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) June 9, 2020
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) is so appalled that he’s calling for US Attorney General William Barr to open a civil rights investigation. In a letter to Barr, Hawley cites the double standard applied to churches but not protestors who gathered in large crowds over the last two weeks after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd.
Hawley accused state and local officials of violating the freedom of religion and free speech clauses in the First Amendment.
Since April, the Department of Justice has filed briefs in federal courts on behalf of churches who are suing their state and local governments. In April and May, Barr repeatedly said the Constitution does not cease to be just because there’s a pandemic, and churches ought to be treated with the same respect given to a business.
On Monday, Barr said Constitutional rights need to be applied equally to everyone, regardless of whether they’re protesting or worshipping.
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