Should people be allowed to go to church during the Coronavirus pandemic. In Virginia, the rules say that big meetings are not allowed, but some people think this goes against the Constitution. The First Amendment grants freedom of religion, so people say they should be able to go to church.
Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Virginia held a service for Palm Sunday on April 5, and 16 people attended. The state has a rule during the Coronavirus pandemic that no public meeting can have more than ten people, and that they must stay at least six feet apart at all times. The church’s pastor, Kevin Wilson, was given a citation by the police.
The police warned Wilson that he had better not hold an Easter service. They told him he could be fined or go to jail. The church claims this broke the First Amendment, which says the government won’t try to stop people from practicing their religion. The church sued Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam, saying they should be punished for opening.
With 16 people showing up, the church did break the new rule by having six more people than was allowed. But the church sanctuary where the service was held was built to hold 293 people. In a sanctuary that size, 16 people would have no trouble staying at least six feet apart. That’s the real purpose of the rule: to keep people from being crowded too close together.
Many say that closing churches during the pandemic doesn’t violate the First Amendment. They argue that the government has stopped all big meetings, not just ones that happen at church. But there’s a problem with that argument. In Virginia, the governor’s press meetings are bigger than ten people. So why hasn’t the governor been given a fine or jail time?