Welcome to New Jersey, where places of worship are not deemed essential, but liquor stores are.

Gov. Phil Murphy has allowed liquor stores to remain open during this government-mandated shutdown of most businesses, meanwhile places of worship such as churches, synagogues and temples are closed expect for online services. So much for "In God We Trust."

I get why the liquor stores need to remain open during this time for both the addiction and mental health aspect, but by the same token, shouldn't places of worship be open for those reasons as well?


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There's no reason why, if people can practice social distancing while they walk through a Walmart, they can't also do it sitting, kneeling and praying inside their places of worship. They can either limit the number of people and hold more services as well as online, or they can just keep the doors open for those who simply want to come in and say a prayer or light a candle.

Personally, I don't go to church, but I respect the feelings of those who do. I also respect their right as Americans to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together to assembly peacefully. It's in the Bill Of Rights, and it's something that didn't even occur to Gov. Phil Murphy when he made this decision.

When asked by Tucker Carlson on his show on Fox News if barring people from going to religious services was contradictory to the Bill of Rights, which protects Americans' rights to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together to assemble peacefully, Murphy responded, "That's way above my pay grade, Tucker. I wasn't thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this." It doesn't surprise me.

When asked by Carlson if practicing someone's faith could be important to their mental health, the governor responded that he has good common ground with faith leaders of every faith who understand this and, "whether it's a liquor store, pharmacy or supermarket, we expect folks to distance themselves from each other and wear face coverings." So if folks can do that in those places, why can't they do that in their places of worship? While we're at it, why aren't these religious leaders making that point instead of shutting down God's house?

There are people in New Jersey who find comfort, solace, and sanctuary (and you KNOW how New Jersey feels about sanctuary) in their place of worship It's their right to be allowed in so long as they are following the social distancing rules. It's wrong to keep them out.

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