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Minnesota, Illinois Continue to Discriminate Against Churches in Reopening Plans

‘To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce … then we’ll have to address that…’

Minnesota, Illinois Continue to Discriminate Against Churches in Reopening Plans
A historic church in Melrose, Minn., is torn down on May 19, 2020. / IMAGE: AM 1240 WJON via YouTube

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) State governments continue to roll out disparate restrictions for churches, despite the fact that many are allowing businesses to reopen.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz introduced a new set of reopening policies this week that will allow restaurants to host up to 50 customers in outdoor seating.

But he continued to prevent churches from holding services with more than 10 people, regardless of the setting.

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Walz said there “is not a perfect answer” when confronted about this disparity.

“I think, and I’m hearing strongly on this … I think the logic behind it … was the predictability of who’s there,” he claimed.

“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 explained.

He maintained that his government felt “a very strong sense of urgency” to figure out how to accommodate churches.

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In Chicago, meanwhile, churches were being slapped with fines for holding services in violation of Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker‘s shelter-in-place order. At least three churches had been fined up to $500 for holding limited services, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Illinois businesses were also being fined if they reopened too soon, but under Pritzker’s plan, businesses such as restaurants are allowed to reopen much sooner than churches.

Businesses will begin to reopen in the next few months, according to Pritzker, but churches must wait to hold full services until a vaccine is developed.

The U.S. Department of Justice has warned states and localities that pass similar disparate restrictions that the federal government will take legal action if the governments continue to needlessly restrict churches’ rights.

“To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce … then we’ll have to address that,” Attorney General Bill Barr said earlier this month.

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