In the ongoing battle between church and state, 1,200 pastors of various faiths in the deep blue Democrat state of California have told (not asked) the state they will be resuming in-person religious services on May 31. This is in proper defiance of Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom’s draconian virus restriction on religious gatherings.
Robert Tyler, an attorney representing a Baptist church in Lodi said the large group of religious leaders signed a “declaration asserting their churches were essential and should be allowed to open. It detailed their plan to reopen on May 31 — with or without the governor’s permission — while observing physical distancing and other virus precautions.” Said the pastors to Governor Newsom, “We believe you are attempting to act in the best interests of the state but the restrictions have gone too far and for too long… This letter was not sent for the purposes of asking for permission.”
The missive comes as a high-ranking Trump Justice Department official on Tuesday warned that parts of state virus shutdown regulations may curtail religious freedoms in California: “Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband wrote. “Laws that do not treat religious activities equally with comparable nonreligious activities are subject to heightened scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”
But predictably, a liberal judge did not agree. U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez had previously denied the church’s request to keep the state from enforcing the religious ban. In that decision, Mendez wrote that “during public health crises, new considerations come to bear, and government officials must ask whether even fundamental rights must give way to a deeper need to control the spread of infectious disease and protect the lives of society’s most vulnerable.” Apparently fundamental rights are not that fundamental to Judge Mendez.
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Conservative Jewish Rabbi Michael Barclay signed the pastor’s letter and plans on resuming Shabbat services on May 31. He’s been streaming his services, but not all of his shul can use electricity on the Sabbath. “It’s been extremely difficult to stay in contact with people, especially to deal with people and their psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs,” said the rabbi. “It really has hurt the psyche and the spirit of people.”
The Rebbe has hit the nail on the head. This shutdown in all its facets, as the president has long said, has been in some ways worse than any damage inflicted upon this nation by the coronavirus. Even leaving out the massive economic toll that has leveled the economy to Great Depression levels, the cost in human suffering has been great.
The loss of jobs, the inability to pay for basic needs, the boredom combined with fear, the alienation due to social distancing, and in California and other states run by liberal governors, the suppression of basic freedoms including redress of grievance, freedom of speech, and freedom of faith have only added to the national price America has paid for the misguided and damaging government policies at all levels that were enacted to fight this virus.
When this crisis is over there must be a reckoning, and those who drove these policies (and those who decided and executed them as well) of ruinous economic destruction and personal loss must be held to account.
This piece was written by David Kamioner on May 22, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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