Our country has lost its way when it holds abortion above the right to worship.
Abortion businesses. Liquor stores. Pot shops. Big-box retailers. Sporting goods chains. Convenience stores.
Governors across the country deemed the above and more so "critical" or "essential" they remained open as our country tried slowing the spread of COVID-19.
All lives are sacred — so sacred the nation should commit economic suicide to save them — except for those ended by abortion. Spreading the virus must be stopped unless one wants marijuana from a store operating in flagrant violation of federal law. The virus is so scary we have closed 12-step recovery meetings, but not such a menace if one needs to buy liquor.
Amid the multistandard madness, governors across the country ordered houses of worship to close. Dozens of governors have made reopening of churches among their lowest priorities.
The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of a right to buy abortions, pot or climbing gear. It does not specify a right to buy soda and snacks from Kum & Go.
Conversely, the Constitution makes one thing perfectly clear. On U.S. soil, the government can do nothing to interfere with the right to worship.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... "
The 14th Amendment extends this limitation of federal authority to all 50 states. If governors respected the roughly 1.4 million people who have died defending the U.S. Constitution, they would have put "houses of worship" at the top of essential services lists.
Rights have limits. There might be disasters that justify the closure of churches, but anything so serious should also close ice cream shops and camping stores.
A germ travels the same among large social-distancing crowds in a Walmart or a mosque.
President Donald Trump finally realized this injustice and declared houses of worship "essential" in a White House announcement Friday. He encouraged governors to open religious institutions and said they could contact him with objections.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis considered the First Amendment after the Colorado Springs Fellowship church defied lockdown orders and held social-distancing services through March. Polis updated his stay-at-home order March 26 to say "houses of worship may remain open, but must practice social distancing or use electronic platforms."
That green light to worship turned blurry when Polis issued his "Safer at Home" order May 8 and limited public and private gatherings to 10 or fewer people. Houses of worship were not included among 100-plus entities exempted from the 10-person limit, confusing religious leaders about his earlier decision to classify their services "critical."
Houses of worship don't seem "essential" or "critical" to lukewarm believers, nonbelievers, or those offended by sectarian belief. To others, they are essential to mental, physical and spiritual well-being. They provide communities for the lonely and form the foundation of our culture's charitable network. Throughout the pandemic, religious organizations have provided food to the newly unemployed.
"Church is, for many people, their whole life," said Lamont Banks, vice president of the Colorado Springs Fellowship church board, in a March TV interview. "They come and they get spiritually fed and spiritually talked to and encouraged. Because everybody is going through something different in their lives."
Our country's founders left us the First Amendment for critical reasons. They did not give the government a germ exception.
The vast majority of religious organizations in our country advocate respect for life. For that reason, houses of worship are more likely than most liquor stores, pot shops and big-box merchants to enforce extreme distancing, masks and other practices thought to obstruct the spread of COVID-19.
Governors had every right and reason to suggest the voluntary closure of churches. They had no authority to close them by force while creating a different standard for secular gatherings. Trump was late to call them on it but right to finally do so.
REPRINTED FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE
Photo credit: WikiImages at Pixabay