Religious Freedom and the Coronavirus
In the midst of this Corona Virus Crisis Christians can care both for those who are suffering and for religious liberty. In fact. We must care about book for the Colson Center. I'm John Stonestreet. This is breakpoint. The media narratives that have emerged from the cove. Nineteen pandemic are varied some like the lack of supplies for medical personnel. First responders are very important others like the stories about churches in their defiant pastors who refuse to comply with physical distancing and stay at home orders. Well they're mostly selective in overblown. Of course there are churches and pastors behaving badly. A few very few less than one percent in fact to suggest that representative of all Christians is both misleading and slanderous also largely ignored in so many of these stories about these churches is the fact that in many towns counties and states the stay at home. Orders are well confusing. Some might even be illegal. Understandably many Christian struggled to know how to take the alarming headlines about pastors being arrested and many churches and Christian ministry struggle to know how to carry out their mission at this time. Kristen Wagner Vice President of the alliance defending freedom told me that. Atf is now receiving about one hundred calls a day from churches and other ministries about Cova nineteen related issues that are asking for help and understanding and complying with Federal State County municipal orders that regulations are being issued at these four levels of government is just one of the potential problems and the orders. Not Confusing or inconsistent are at times being applied and enforced inconsistently or in ways discriminatory against the free exercise of Religion. The most important thing to remember is Christian Wagner stated and during the podcast is that First Amendment rights cannot be suspended permanently. That's why the threat from New York City Mayor Bill De Blasios to permanently closed. Some churches after the crisis is manifestly absurd to main requirements. Must be met for any infringement on religious freedom including during a time of national or local emergency I any. Infringement must advance a compelling state interest and second it must be done in the least restrictive way possible now what constitutes a compelling state interest will of course vary according to circumstances for example the government could have a compelling interest to limit how people can gather during an emergency or even how many people can gather though this would infringe on religious liberty. And that's what the Kansas Supreme Court ruled over the weekend. The orders however must be clear. A person should be able to understand what is and what is not restricted without having to hire a lawyer according to wagoner many of the Cova nineteen restrictions are failing. This clarity test. Especially at the local level unclear restrictions make inconsistent enforcement by government nearly inevitable. This is especially true and local officials have an agenda and see an opportunity to take advantage of a crisis in crackdown on groups. They don't like including religious ones. For instance and both Charlotte and Greensboro North Carolina in recent days believers have been arrested for praying outside abortion clinics even though they were obeying local distancing orders last week the Mayor of Louisville Kentucky in explicitly attempted to bar a church from holding a drive in service. A service where no one gets out of their cars a federal judge cited scathingly with the church writing in his opinion that on Holy. Thursday in American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter. That sentences. One this court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopia novel or perhaps the pages of the onion now I was encouraged when Kristen Wagner told me that most of the time a simple letter written to state and local officials pointing out problems or seeking clarification in their is all it takes. The profession analogy of the alliance defending freedom one of their best tools. But they're pretty good in court to even in the best of times guarding our First Amendment freedoms can be an uphill battle and these are not the best of times that's why I'm grateful that Kristen Wagner and the alliance defending freedom. Are there to help. Guide us through these confusing times my interview with Christian Wagoner Airs Today on the break point. Podcast subscribe to the break point podcasts. Wherever you get your podcast or come to breakpoint dot org to listen for breakpoint. I'm John Stonestreet.