Thursday, July 18, 2024

Nevada Gov. Sisolak’s New COVID Orders Still Privilege Casinos Over Churches

'There is no constitutional right to gamble...'

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, updated the state’s health directives to let more people attend religious gatherings, but the order still privileges casinos over churches.

Sisolak’s anti-religious mandate lets casinos operate at 50 percent capacity, without a limit on total capacity, while forcing churches to operate at 50 percent capacity, with a 250-person limit.

These rules apply “so long as social distancing can be maintained and all other requirements can be met.” Other requirements including mandatory masking and health screenings, The Christian Post reported.

Prior to this update, churches had to limit services to 50 people, no matter the capacity level.

Even at half capacity, Nevada’s casinos can hold thousands of people.

The Alliance Defending Freedom sued the governor in Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak, arguing that his 50-person limit on church attendance discriminated against houses of worship by favoring houses of gambling and violated the churches’ First Amendment rights.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will hear the case, ADF reported in a press release.

“The First Amendment requires churches not be treated like second-class citizens,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation David Cortman. “Even with the governor’s new order allowing churches to gather in greater numbers, the problem remains.”

Sisolak said Wednesday in a statement that the new order is “an important step towards allowing more Nevadans to safely participate in social gatherings, including those facilitated by our faith-based communities.”

“The governor should adjust his policies to comply with the Constitution. There is no constitutional right to gamble, but there is one that protects religious Americans,” Cortman said.

“We look forward to the day when, by the governor’s order or a court order, church gatherings are, at a minimum, treated equally to other gatherings.”

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