AFA: ‘The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution Explicitly Protects People of Faith from this Type of Government Overreach’
December 21, 2020
TUPELO, Miss.— Last week,SCOTUS provided temporary victories to both a Colorado church and New Jersey religious leaders that challenged their respective state coronavirus restrictions regarding the number of people permitted in attendance at prayer services — vacating lower court rulings and calling for the cases to be reconsidered after the court shot down similar prohibitions in New York.
In response to these rulings, Walker Wildmon, vice president of operations and public policy analyst of the American Family Association (AFA) stated, “Over the last several months, mayors and governors have been using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to shut down churches in the name of public health. What these elected officials refuse to recognize is that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution explicitly protects people of faith from this type of government overreach. Since the founding of our republic, Americans have been free to practice their faith and worship freely. There is no reason to ignore this fundamental right, including a pandemic. We applaud the Supreme Court for providing temporary relief to churches in recent weeks and pray that this trend will continue with the Court.”
In the Colorado case, the High Plains Harvest Church sought an injunction against the state’s limits on the number of people allowed at services and the Supreme Court granted the relief in a 6-3 decision.
In the New Jersey case, the Supreme Court similarly vacated an October District Court ruling, instructing the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to send the case back to the District Court for reconsideration in light of the New York case.
In the New York case, the religious groups claimed that Gov. Andrew Cuomo unfairly targeted religion by holding services and houses of worship to a stricter standard than other “essential” services and businesses.
“The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” the court’s ruling in that case said.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a scathing opinion regarding Cuomo’s prohibitions. “[I]t turns out the businesses the Governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores,” Gorsuch wrote. “Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers, and insurance agents are all essential too. So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians. Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?”
For over 40 years, AFA has operated within the mission to inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture and give aid to the church here and abroad in its task of fulfilling the Great Commission. Visit AFA Action Alerts here.
AFA—founded in 1977—has long been on the front lines of America’s culture war. Today, AFA is one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country, with nearly a million online supporters and approximately 160,000 subscribers to the AFA Journal, the ministry’s monthly magazine. In addition, AFA owns and operates nearly 200 radio stations across the country under the American Family Radio banner.
To interview a representative of the American Family Association, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.