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Charlotte, NC – On Friday, President Trump declared that churches are essential. He said that states should work with houses of worship to allow those places to reopen. He also announced that the CDC would release new guidance that helps churches as they move through reopening.
Religious leaders praised the move, while the left and mainstream media said he had no power to force the opening. On Fox News, Judge Napolitano says that the primary recourse Trump has is for the Justice Department to sue on behalf of churches against the states restricting church openings.
Throughout the coronavirus closures, churches have been an area of focus for the religious community. Many have been locked out of services, threatened with fines and crimes if they were to hold services. It should have never been this way.
President Trump is correct; churches are essential. It should not have taken a statement from President Trump for our country to see that, however. We often refer to the Constitution when making this argument and the first amendment.
In that first amendment, it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” There’s one key issue here in this statement. Congress did not establish the stay orders.
Some have indicated that the states have the authority to make the exemptions and exclusions to restrict or allow worship. That is not exactly true.
Under the US Constitution, the Supremacy clause would take effect here. In Article VI, it says, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
The freedom to practice religion should have been one of the first restrictions to have been addressed and eased. Instead, it has taken lawsuits and protests in many states to secure the right to attend church. It should have never happened this way.
Many Americans are not even aware of the protected rights that they are guaranteed in the Consitution. I will admit, some areas are difficult to ascertain as to what the founding fathers meant. Many others require no such thought.
It is not difficult to understand that an executive order prohibiting the practice of religious beliefs is unconstitutional. This does not mean that churches do not have a responsibility, however.
Scripture is filled with teachings that can help us see the responsibility of the church. Philippians 2:4 teach that one should not look only at themselves, but also at others. Galatians 6:10 teaches to do good unto all men.
A church cannot simply ignore that there is a responsibility on them as well. It does not mean that they are unable to have church or worship, as many executive orders declared. It does mean that they should show the care and love of Christ to others through their worship during this time.
In my opinion, the CDC guidance was done well for churches. In following the measures outlined, a church can practice their first amendment freedoms, while also protecting others.
It is shameful that it took weeks of closures and a statement by President Trump to bring this topic to the front of attention in our nation. This issue is not important just to those in the religious community. It should be important to all Americans.