It’s Easter time. Let’s take a moment to consider religious freedom during the quarantine.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof:” And so our Bill of Rights begins with that statement. During this COVID-19 time of quarantine, Congress has made no law that establishes a religion. Congress also has not prohibited the free exercise thereof during this time of quarantine.
What about the states? Indiana’s Constitution Article 1, Section 31 states:
“No law shall restrain any of the inhabitants of the State from assembling together in a peaceable manner…” What does “no law shall restrain” mean? Yes, I think it means what you think it means. Yet, we have the Governor of Indiana giving citizens a list of how they may worship during this quarantine period.
You might say, “it’s for the good of the citizens.” Can a Governor throw the Constitution under the bus during a crisis? I keep grappling with this. Our Founders bled and died for our right to worship freely. I understand certain rules, like “Livestream and other virtual services are best.” I do not understand a Governor deciding that drive-in services should have a list of strict rules that almost preclude any assembly. But what really “gets my goat” is that the Governor of Indiana has decided that he prefers communion not be distributed. If communion is distributed, it has to meet food safety standards. Ok. But since when does the State decide anything about communion? Common sense and the Constitution assumes that we are adults and can make these decisions for ourselves without the help of the State.
It’s Passover and Easter time. Where are law and liberty when it comes to religious rights during quarantine? I submit to you that restrictions on religious freedom should allow time for citizens to be able to make redress of their grievances. Citizens should not be threatened with the weight of the law when it comes to their freedom to worship. If churches have the legal space and the ability to broadcast a church service to cars in their parking lots, then We the People can ascertain whether attendance and participation in those services are right for us.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. ??