AG Barr: State Governments May Not Impose Special Restrictions on Religious Activity

AG Bill Barr is getting involved in the Mississippi church scandal.

The city of Greenville allows movie theaters, restaurants, concert halls, and other comparable places of assembly to operate, then they cannot put special restrictions on churches.

The church did not violate any social distancing rules as they sat in their cars, with the windows rolled up as they listened to their pastor, Charles Hamilton Jr conduct the services on their car radios.

Twenty police cars swarmed the parking lot and they issued fines of $500 for violating social distancing rules.

AG Bill Barr says this is not legal and he is looking into the matter now.

Barr said:

“But even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers. Thus, the government may not impose special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to the similar nonreligious activity. For example, if a government allows movie theaters, restaurants, concert halls, and other comparable places of assembly to remain open and unrestricted, it may not order houses of worship to close, limit their congregation size, or otherwise impede religious gatherings. Religious institutions must not be singled out for special burdens.”

“Today, the Department filed a Statement of Interest in support of a church in Mississippi that allegedly sought to hold parking lot worship services, in which congregants listened to their pastor preach over their car radios, while sitting in their cars in the church parking lot with their windows rolled up.  The City of Greenville fined congregants $500 per person for attending these parking lot services – while permitting citizens to attend nearby drive-in restaurants, even with their windows open. The City appears to have thereby singled churches out as the only essential service (as designated by the state of Mississippi) that may not operate despite following all CDC and state recommendations regarding social distancing.”

“The United States Department of Justice will continue to ensure that religious freedom remains protected if any state or local government, in their response to COVID-19, singles out, targets, or discriminates against any house of worship for special restrictions.”

Democrats all across the country are trying to shut down churches even as they allow liquor stores and pot shops to remain open.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

get the newsletter

Receive infrequent Floglegs updates about upcoming episodes and general news.