Religious liberty

Justice Department Tweet Warns Against Restrictions That "Single Out Religious Orgs"

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From the official U.S. Department of Justice account:

I'm inclined to say that's right as a general matter: (1) Generally applicable social distancing policies can be applied to church gatherings alongside other gatherings, and (2) the Free Exercise Clause forbids "singl[ing] out religious org[anizations]" and gatherings for special burdens that aren't imposed equally on others. But of course, much depends on what exactly counts as singling out; I look forward to seeing what exactly the Justice Department does. In the meantime, I'll have a post later this morning on the substance of the Kansas church shutdown controversy.

NEXT: Kansas Supreme Court Invalidates Legislature's Scheme for Supervising Governor's Executive Powers

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  1. Please worhip at home, and turn, in your hymnals, to number 666. Six Hundred and Sixty Six.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISmgOrhELXs

  2. In about an hour we are off to demonstrate our Faith by gathering at a vista where the sunrise would be visible but for the clouded eastern horizon. We know the Son is Rising!

    Happy Easter. Happy Spring.

    My quarantine is over. Free at last! Thank God I’m free at last.

  3. It is done. He is Risen Indeed.

    A flash mob of ten gathered at our eastern vista, where someone had erected the controversial Cross. We watched the horizon grow rosy and hoped that the orb might break through the clouds, but not while I was there.

    1. Some customers asked one of my clients to sell a couple of kegs the other day and, when asked why they might need kegs (nothing but cans and bottles selling lately, for obvious reasons), admitted they were for a planned keg party at a closed golf course.

      Just as dumb.

  4. “the Free Exercise Clause forbids “singl[ing] out religious org[anizations]” and gatherings for special burdens that aren’t imposed equally on others.”

    In as much as the free exercise clause actually singles out religious exercise for special protection, that’s kind of putting it mildly.

  5. What unconstitutional means will the Attorney General propose the President use to enforce the Attorney General’s tweets?

  6. While I don’t think Barr is a political man, that may have been a warning to some whose fascist plans he’d heard about.

    But this is showing Christians & Jews why elections matter…

    1. 1) Secret fascist plans being thwarted via cryptic public message isn’t a thing in the real world.

      2) Most Christians and Jews have no trouble social distancing. Those that insist on not doing so seem firmly in Trump’s camp already.

      3) This is a political tweet, by a man who has become very political.

      1. “This is a political tweet, by a man who has become very political.”

        I know, right? It’s shocking to see this level of partisanship:

        “While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious orgs.”

        1. On Easter, TiP?

          Don’t gaslight.

    2. “But this is showing Christians & Jews why elections matter…”

      By all means, Christians and Jews, vote for Trump! Show your true — hypocritical, bigoted, stale, childish, backward — colors.

      Or perhaps focus on the teachings of your religions that seems to disdain the vainglorious, the bigoted, the vulgar, the mean-spirited, the selfish, the mendacious, the reckless, and the ignorant. That might even slow the rate of decline in religion in America.

  7. Secret fascist plans being thwarted via cryptic public message isn’t a thing in the real world.”

    You’ve never heard of “trial balloons”?

    1. Not secret ones, thwarted secretly.

      We don’t live in a political thriller.

  8. It may be Kentucky that he is worried about:
    see: https://kentucky.gov/Pages/Activity-stream.aspx?n=GovernorBeshear&prId=122

    “Gov. Beshear is warning anyone planning to attend an in-person mass gathering this weekend that they will face quarantine orders. He’s planning to send the state police out to take down license plate numbers and then have the local boards enforce the mandatory 14 day quarantines.

    On the basis of WHAT??? How are they more dangerous than, say, police officers — and is he ordering a mass quarantine of them?

    The state somehow can’t prevent the events, it will just punish anyone who attends. That’s gotta be a violation of something….

    1. Yes, those atheist plotting tyrants in Kentucky. That can’t be rebuked publicly or via policy channels, but rather cryptically.

    2. “How are they more dangerous than, say, police officers”

      Law enforcement is a public good, an essential, provided by often selfless, heroic people.

      A large religious gathering is a non-essential activity indulged in by selfish, reckless, credulous people.

      Anyone who can’t distinguish authorizing police officers to break quarantine from expecting religious congregants to comply with quarantine seems incapable of contributing to reasoned debate. That is the thinking of a child.

      1. Sometimes a public good, sometimes a public bad. Depends on what they’re doing.

        1. Still readily distinguishable from a gathering to speak in tongues, juggle rattlesnakes, or the like.

          1. Sure. Those folks, unlike the police, are going to leave you alone. Making them less dangerous to others than police.

    3. On the basis of public health, obviously. There are at least three distinct ways in which such an order together with its execution tends to inhibit the spread of COVID. I’ll bet you can figure out all three.

  9. “While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious org”

    The last thing clingers want with respect to superstition-based claims is evenhanded application.

  10. Religious liberty is very important. However, giving jurisdiction to a powerful centralized federal government to decide matters of religious liberty as it relates to state law seems short-sighted.

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