Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Church, State, and Public Health

When asked about religious organizations, Texas Governor Greg Abbott explained they were exempt from large gathering restrictions due to “freedom of religion.” While his rhetoric is more in line with the talking points the Christian Right has used to advance a theocratic agenda in recent years, both Whitmer and Abbot are essentially making First Amendment arguments.

Except Gov. Abbott forgot to tell Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo:

Faith leaders may minister and counsel in individual settings, so long as social distance protocols are followed.Religious and worship services may only be provided by video and teleconference.Religious institutions must limit in-person staff to those necessary for preparing for or conducting video or teleconference services, and all individuals must follow the Social Distancing Guidelines, including the six-foot social distancing.
That order went into effect at midnight.*  There may be some objection to it, eventually; but so far, not a peep.  Not even the Governor's office, calling to complain.

Lots of large Southern Baptist churches here.  I find, by and large, they are pretty sensible people.

*I should also clarify that Abbott is still leaving decisions on orders for public health to counties and municipalities, so he really has no room to complain, if he ever does.

1 comment:

  1. If the issue here in the first amendment,

    first, that would prevent almost all forms of mass expression and entertainment from being shut down

    second, it can be allowable as a "time, place and manner" restriction

    IOW, a red herring

    I greatly value the notion of freedom of religion in the first amendment. But I fear how so many people are going to lose any sense of the importance of freedom of religion by its loudest advocates insisting it nullifies the obligation to abide by conventional public health measures.