Minn churches unite, refuse to be put ‘at back of the line’ after Governor’s wildly illogical reopen orders

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Hundreds of Minnesota churches informed Democratic Gov. Tim Walz that they won’t be abiding by his unfair orders to keep their doors closed.

A law firm announced Wednesday that over 700 Catholic and Lutheran churches in the state plan to reopen their places of worship on May 26 despite the governor’s renewed coronavirus policies that restrict their ability to do so.

(Image: NGA screenshot)

Church leaders told Walz that “the First Amendment doesn’t let the government put churches at the back of the line during reopening,” according to the non-profit, non-partisan law firm, Becket.

On Wednesday, Walz announced changes to existing coronavirus orders that will now take effect on June 1, allowing businesses such as tattoo parlors, salons and restaurants to reopen with some restrictions.

Restaurants will be able to host up to 50 customers in outdoor seating but that churches will still be limited to 10 no matter the setting. A limit of 50 customers are allowed to dine in restaurants using outdoor seating areas. Defying logic, however, the governor’s update still limits churches to gatherings of 10 people or fewer.

The phase 3 reopening guidelines perplexed many who questioned why churches were being limited while secular places were not. Walz claimed there is “not a perfect answer” to the question of the seeming discrimination.

“I think, and I’m hearing strongly on this, of trying to figure out how we make that happen because I think the logic behind it, and I think, again, it was the predictability of who’s there. But I think you could argue, ‘Boy, I see the same people every Sunday at my congregation and, in fact, the Smiths sat in the same pew every year for 30 years, so we know exactly where they’re at and we know exactly where they are,'” Walz said at a news briefing Wednesday.

“I just want to say that I think there is a very strong sense of urgency for us to figure this piece out around churches. And I say that about all the businesses, but I do think these pieces of people’s lives ⁠— we need to try and get it around,” he added. “I will, again, say that I don’t think that it’s perfect, and I think there’s some things that we have to still continue to figure out.”

Apparently, the indoor capacity for churches will go up to 20, with 100 allowed outdoors, in phase four, according to the Washington Examiner.

“Minnesota and @GovTimWalz cannot treat religious believers as second-class citizens while prioritizing malls, casinos, liquor stores, tattoo parlors, & pet grooming,” the Becket law firm tweeted Wednesday, slamming his lack of concern for churches.

“The First Amendment doesn’t let the Governor discriminate against communities of faith or prioritize money, grooming, and leisure over spiritual well-being,” Becket added.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom was informed by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice this week that his plan to begin reopening parts of his state discriminates against churches. Newsom’s order limiting churches to online services, if they have the capabilities, while other businesses, such as restaurants, are being allowed to reopen with social distancing guidelines, places an “unfair burden” on religious groups and violates protected civil rights by showing an “unequal treatment of faith communities.”

The letter from Assistant Attorney General Eric Drieband listed no immediate action by the DOJ but reminded the Democrat governor of Attorney General William Barr’s remarks last month cautioning governments to avoid violating the constitutional rights of Americans in their efforts to enforce social distancing and other coronavirus emergency measures.

“Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” Dreiband wrote.

The DOJ letter to Newsom and the intention of churches in Minnesota comes as courts have been siding with individuals and businesses fighting government overreach and condemning restrictions that classify churches as “non-essential” in the pandemic.

The pushback against Walz with the announced opening of churches was applauded by many on Twitter.

Frieda Powers

Senior Staff Writer
[email protected]

Originally from New York, Powers graduated from New York University and eventually made her way to sunny South Florida where she has been writing for the BizPacReview team since 2015.
Frieda Powers

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