Should stores operate during the COVID-19 shutdown with hundreds of people entering and exiting, when churches may not?

According to an article on the American Family Association’s website, a church in Virginia is suing Gov. Ralph Northam after he issued an executive order that prohibits the church from holding services with more than 10 people.

The church on Chincoteague Island held a service in which 16 people gathered. The building holds 293, and the people were spaced apart, according to social distancing guidelines. However, police threatened Pastor Kevin Wilson with jail time and a possible $2,500 fine for opening the building to more than 10 people. New Jersey has ordered the closing of churches, synagogues and mosques as well.

We know this is unconstitutional, but we’ve accepted it nonetheless. But why? The Virginia suit cites the irony of stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart to be allowed to operate freely with hundreds of people inside, trusted to practice proper social distancing, while houses of worship may not.

The rationale behind this, of course, is that these businesses are assumed to be essential, but religious worship is not. In whose eyes? The government’s? Why do we not see how illogical this is? I look forward to a similar lawsuit here in New Jersey, where the shutting of houses of worship is a direct violation of our first amendment rights, pandemic or not.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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