Sixth Circuit Declares Closure of Religious Schools in Toledo Violates Free Exercise Clause

The panel attempts to explain how to perform the Diocese comparator approach. Yet, the panel does not recognize that the Supreme Court's precedents do not provide an answer.

|

On December 31, the Sixth Circuit decided another COVID-19 free exercise case on the appellate shadow docket. The panel (Kethledge, Bush, Nalbandian) answered the question that the Supreme Court skirted in Danville Christian Academy: can the government shut down religious schools while leaving secular businesses open? The panel said no in Monclova Christian Academy v. Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department in Ohio shut down "every school in the county—public, private, and more to the point here, parochial . . . to slow the spread of COVID-19." However, the county allowed many secular businesses to remain open, including "gyms, tanning salons, office buildings, and a large casino." Nine Christian schools challenged the constitutionality of this measure. The District Court found that the policy "was a neutral law of general application, as defined by the Supreme Court's precedents." The Sixth Circuit reversed, and granted an injunction pending appeal. This post will be a tad long, as the panel raises a number of important issues that are not fully developed.

As a threshold matter, the panel considered whether the order was "of general application." The court stated, "A rule of general application, in this sense, is one that restricts religious conduct the same way that 'analogous non-religious conduct'" is restricted." Lukumi, 508 U.S. at 546. The reference to "analogous non-religious conduct" from Lukumi does not accurately capture the Court's framework to determine general applicability.

Let's consider the structure of Lukumi. Part II.A of the opinion concluded that the Hialeah ordinances targeted the Santeria faith. Based on this finding of targeting, Part II.B concluded that the law was not a "requirement of general applicability." Part III, which begins on page 546, explains that a "law burdening religious practice that is not neutral or not of general application must undergo the most rigorous of scrutiny." Next, the court reviewed the ordinances with strict scrutiny. The strict scrutiny analysis in Part III began by discussing narrow tailoring. Here, the Court found that "all four ordinances are overbroad or underinclusive in substantial respects." Specifically, "[t]he proffered objectives are not pursued with respect to analogous non-religious conduct, and those interests could be achieved by narrower ordinances that burdened religion to a far lesser degree." (Here is the key language the Sixth Circuit panel cited). Justice Kennedy concluded, "the absence of narrow tailoring suffices to establish the invalidity of the ordinances."

The Sixth Circuit panel plucked the phrase "analogous non-religious conduct" from the strict scrutiny analysis, and used it to determine whether strict scrutiny was warranted in the first place. The panel put the cart before the horse. The question of narrow tailoring becomes relevant only after the Court determines that the law is not one of general applicability. But the Sixth Circuit used the narrow tailoring analysis to find the law was not one of general applicability. Now Part II-B of Lukumi, which considered whether the ordinances were generally applicable, did consider underinlusivenes and overinclusiveness. Yet, that section lacked the magic words "analogous non-religious conduct."

In any event, I think this citation was in error, and fails to account for the structure of Lukumi. Like with NFIB v. Sebelius, Supreme Court decisions must be read from top to bottom. It is risky to quote language from later in the opinion to support positions established earlier.

The Sixth Circuit finds further support for its position in Justice Gorsuch's concurring opinion from Roman Catholic Diocese. The panel explains, "the Free Exercise Clause does not guarantee better treatment for religious actors than for secular ones; instead, the Clause 'prohibits government officials from treating religious exercises worse than comparable secular activities[.]'" Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, 141 S. Ct. 63, 69 (2020) (Gorsuch, J. concurring). Now, Justice Gorsuch cited the same page from Lukumi that the panel cited. Gorsuch's citation is more defensible, because he collapsed the entire Free Exercise inquiry into a single sentence. He didn't look to that page of Lukumi to determine whether the law was itself one of general applicability.

I realize I am splitting hairs here. But I jumped when I saw how the panel used the "analogous non-religious conduct" phrase from Lukumi. I've read and reread Smith and Lukumi more times than I can count over the past eleventh months. I have desperately tried to find any hints about how the comparator approach fits into the test of general applicability. And I never factored that language into the general applicability framework. I am in the process of revising my Harvard JLPP piece, and I am trying to track down the origins of the "comparator" approach as a way to determine whether a law was generally applicable. I've read and re-read Justice Kennedy's opinion in Lukumi, and it is not there. Indeed, Lukumi declined to "define with precision the standard used to evaluate whether a prohibition is of general application." As best as I can tell, judges began to intuit this framework in the early days of the COVID litigation. Alas, the Sixth Circuit tried to fit that intuition in language that cannot support it.

So far, I have been critical of the panel. The remainder of the opinion, however, is worthy of praise. It attempts, with admirable clarity, to explain how the comparator approach should be used. Indeed, the panel approaches the issue in much the same way I had been thinking about this question in recent weeks.

First, the panel explains that assessing "[w]hether conduct is analogous (or 'comparable') for purposes of this rule does not depend on whether the religious and secular conduct involve similar forms of activity." I agree, emphatically. So many courts have crudely analogized churches to concerts because people are sitting around and singing in both places. That comparison is inapt. Instead, the courts must compare the risks that houses of worship pose to the risks that other secular businesses pose. You compare the risks from the activities, not the activities themselves.

The Sixth Circuit explains, "comparability is measured against the interests the State offers in support of its restrictions on conduct." Here, the panel accurately quotes from Lukumi. In that case, the city asserted "two interests: protecting the public health and preventing cruelty to animals." Justice Kennedy found that Hialeah's ordinances were "underinclusive" because "they fail to prohibit nonreligious conduct that endangers these interests in a similar or greater degree than Santeria sacrifice does." The Sixth Circuit panel explains that "comparability depends on whether the secular conduct 'endangers these interests in a similar or greater degree than' the religious conduct does." In the context of the pandemic, courts would ask whether a casino, for example, "endangers" public safety "in a similar or greater degree than" does a church.

Second, the panel cites Roman Catholic Diocese to support its analysis: "In Cuomo, for example, the Court said that activities at 'acupuncture facilities, camp grounds, garages,' and retail stores were comparable to 'attendance at houses of worship'—precisely because that secular conduct presented a 'more serious health risk' than the religious conduct did. 141 S. Ct. at 66-67. This citation presents some difficulties. I am generally skeptical of citations that pluck quotes from different paragraphs stretched over two pages. My skepticism was warranted here. This citation include three separate quoted sections. The first two quotations are from the same paragraph. The Court said that there was "disparate treatment" between "essential" businesses like "acupuncture facilities, camp grounds, garages" and "attendance at house of worship." But that paragraph did not discuss the comparative health risks. At that juncture, the Court had not yet determined whether the law was generally applicable. Indeed, the per curiam opinion, much to my consternation, did not really explain why the law was not generally applicable.

Later in the opinion, the Court found that the rule was not generally applicable. And then the Court begins its strict scrutiny analysis. At that point, the Court included the other quoted language: "more serious health risk." Here, the Court was considering whether the ordinance was narrowly tailored. The opinion stated, "It is hard to believe that admitting more than 10 people to a 1,000–seat church or 400–seat synagogue would create a more serious health risk than the many other activities that the State allows."

In short, the Court did not factor in the comparative health risks into the general applicability analysis. The Court considered the comparative health risks as part of the strict scrutiny narrow tailoring analysis. Ultimately, I think the Sixth Circuit was correct to incorporate the comparative health risks analysis. But to remain consistent with Smith and Lukumi, these steps need to be separated.

Third, the panel quotes further from Diocese: "Mitigation of that risk, of course, was the State's asserted interest in support of its restrictions on attendance at religious services; the State did not extend those restrictions to comparable secular conduct; and thus, the Court held, 'the challenged restrictions' were not 'of 'general applicability[.]" Diocese at 67 (quoting Lukumi, 508 U.S. at 546). Here, the Supreme Court concluded that the New York orders were not generally applicable. From here on out, the Court reviewed the order with strict scrutiny.

I think the panel made the same mistake in two contexts. It quoted language from the Supreme Court's strict scrutiny analysis from Lukumi and Diocese in order to determine whether the Toledo law was generally applicable. I hope other judges can take notice of the errors in this opinion. I would much rather clear things up here, than let Justice Kagan tear apart a fragile, majority opinion.

Fourth, the panel found that the Sixth Circuit's prior decision in Danville Christian Academy, Inc. v. Beshear did not decide "whether an order closing public and parochial schools violates the Clause if it leaves other comparable secular actors less restricted than the closed parochial schools." And, the Supreme Court punted on this issue based on the timing of Governor Beshear's order. Therefore, the panel would "consider the broader question presented here." And what was that question: "whether we may consider only the secular actors (namely, other schools) regulated by the specific provision here in determining whether the plaintiffs' schools are treated less favorably than comparable secular actors are."

Fifth, the panel found "no support for that proposition in the relevant Supreme Court caselaw." The panel continues: "the issue as to neutrality there was whether the City had targeted the plaintiff's practice of ritual animal sacrifice; but a similarly broad inquiry could just as easily reveal disparate treatment of religious and secular conduct for purposes of the 'general application' inquiry." Here, the panel–I think–acknowledges that Lukumi does not speak directly to this issue. To be frank, I don't fully understand this sentence. I've read it several times, and it still eludes me. The panel was trying to do too much in a single sentence, and failed to show its work. There are missing steps here that are unexplained.

Next, the panel stated. "And the Court's test for identifying comparable secular conduct for purposes of that inquiry routinely identifies as comparable, as shown above, activities that are in other ways very different—attendance at church services and patronizing 'acupuncture facilities[,]' for example. Cuomo, 141 S. Ct. at 66-67." Routinely? I don't think the Court has ever had to make this sort of decision before. And I'm not even convinced a per curiam shadow docket ruling is precedential.

Sixth, the panel addresses what I have started to call the "denominator" question. What exactly can you compare the burdened religious activity to? As a threshold matter, the courts cannot consider the restriction on worship in isolation. "A myopic focus solely on the provision that regulates religious conduct would thus allow for easy evasion of the Free Exercise guarantee of equal treatment." Rather, the panel says, the courts should review "state law as a whole." (This approach reminds me of Justice Brandeis's "parcel as a whole" analysis from Penn Coal.) Specifically, the "relevant inquiry should therefore simply be whether the 'government, in pursuit of legitimate interests,' has imposed greater burdens on religious conduct than on analogous secular conduct. Lukumi at 543. Again, I don't think that test follows from Lukumi, but I agree as a matter of first principles.

Seventh, the panel finally determines that the county's restrictions are not generally applicable. The panel observes, "In Lucas County, the plaintiffs' schools are closed, while gyms, tanning salons, office buildings, and the Hollywood Casino remain open." And, the panel states, "Cuomo makes clear that those secular facilities are 'comparable' for purposes of spreading COVID-19." Again, I don't think Roman Catholic Diocese adopted this reasoning. But this reasoning flows from the Court's decision.

Eighth, the panel concludes that the order must be reviewed with strict scrutiny. And the government "does not argue that its action can survive that scrutiny." And the panel states, without any analysis "Nor do we see any reason why it would." In the end the court grants a preliminary injunction.

***

There is much to praise about this opinion. The panel attempts to explain how to perform the Diocese comparator approach. Yet, the panel does not recognize that the Supreme Court's precedents do not provide an answer. I see this decision as a natural outgrowth of Diocese. And I hope the Supreme Court follows this lead.

NEXT: Congress Overrides Trump Veto of Defense Bill that Includes Tight Constraints on Use of "Emergency" Powers to Divert Military Construction Funds to the Border Wall and Other Projects

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I look at this on a much more simplistic level – if they can leave gyms, casinos, & tanning salons open, they’re either not thinking this thing through very well, or aren’t exactly being rational.

    The other thing here which is easily overlooked is that inherent in an order to close K-12 schools is a related exemption from the minimum days/hours of yearly attendance. In most states, the way that both the truancy and school laws are written require a governmental order to close the schools lest they be liable to make up the missed hours of instruction and the parents liable under the truancy laws.

    In other words, you can close your school for a snow day, or whatever else, but you gotta make it up at the end of the year. Shutdown orders exempt the schools from this liability.

    So on the one hand there is the desire to *permit* schools to close without having to make up the days, and on the other is the demand that they close — and I can see those two commingled. Gyms, on the other hand, can close any time they damn well please….

    1. I look at this on a much more simplistic level

      You don’t say.

      1. That’s how populists think — get used to it…

        1. Better Americans are accustomed to right-wing dumbassery — that’s why clingers have lost the culture war and disaffected right-wing law professors huddle for warmth with their fans at a White, male, movement conservative blog.

          1. Care to address his perfectly legitimate points? Better Americans are capable of that.

            1. What is a Better American?

              1. I was referring to Arthur’s comment about “better Americans”.

      2. Only intellectuals think it’s better to make things harder than they should be…

        1. Pseudo-intellectuals??

  2. It seems like the emerging doctrine is that any activity of a religious nature that involves people being in proximity to each other is permissible if any secular activity that might involve proximity is allowed. So, if gas stations are open, churches can be open. If grocery stores are open, parochial schools can be open. If people can attend outdoor football games while spread yards and yards apart, people can attend indoor religious services.

    Insanity.

    1. If you’d stopped when your comparitors were actually comparable, it would have been fine. But yeah, when you extend your “examples” to insane levels, it’s insane.

      So yes, if grocery stores can be open under given conditions of capacity, distancing, masking, etc, so can schools under the same conditions. And if people can attend outdoor football games while spread yards and yards apart, they can do anything else outdoors while spread yards and yards apart. But if they can attend indoor basketball games and movie theaters (while spread well apart by closing rows, etc), then they can attend indoor religious services (under the same conditions), too.

      1. “ So yes, if grocery stores can be open under given conditions of capacity, distancing, masking, etc, so can schools under the same conditions.”

        Except that _secular_ schools cannot. The Sixth is granting religious schools preferential treatment over secular schools because they are religious, on the principle that the courts are in a better position to decide what kind of activities are like other activities for the purposes of public health regulation than are public health regulators – leading to ludicrous results like this, where a religious school is analogized to a casino and not , you know, a school.

        The Court, and as a result the courts, have used Covid as a lever by which a religious affiliation is a full and complete get-out-of-regulation-free card, in order to, as Scalia warned, make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.

        I don’t think conservatives are going to like the results when mosques and madrasas pick up on the implications.

        1. Two buildings full of rows. Total capacity is 500 each. Each building limits capacity to 100 people, spaced apart, and masked. The people stay in the building for 2 hours at a time then leave.
          Only one is allow to stay open by law.
          Question is which one?

          The one with a movie projector screen or one with a crucifix at the front?

          There is no reasonable way to say one should be allowed to open but not the other. You could argue they should both be closed. You could argue both should be open. But there is no legal way to say that they should be treated differently. And given that there is an explicit prohibition against interfering with the one that has the crucifix at the front… I would wager that they should both be open. You don’t have to like that. I may not like that in terms of best safety practices. But it is clearly the most just legal position unless/until the Constitution is changed and we adopt arbitrary rules against disfavored groups as unquestionably acceptable.

          And a school, in the characteristics that matter in this case, is a place of meeting of groups. That they do academic things or religious things isn’t relevant when deciding if being there is risky. But it DOES matter if determining how to treat places of similar risk. That is the point. It isn’t a “school v school” issue because the nature of the building being used for academics or quilting doesn’t matter one iota re: Covid risk. It is the logistics alone that matter. Just as the social justice parades can not be reasonably defended as acceptable to public health while other public groups of people marching down the street are considered risks. The nature of the march doesn’t change the logistics nor risk of Covid.

          1. “The one with a movie projector screen or one with a crucifix at the front?
            There is no reasonable way to say one should be allowed to open but not the other.”

            Actually there is an easy way. It’s called the first amendment….

          2. “There is no reasonable way to say one should be allowed to open but not the other.”

            The moment I try to, I promise you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime, you’re taking the position that a state cannot decide to regulate two schools similarly because it cannot regulate a church dissimilarly to a movie theater. This is a really poor argument.

          3. Two buildings full of rows. Total capacity is 500 each. Each building limits capacity to 100 people, spaced apart, and masked. The people stay in the building for 2 hours at a time then leave.
            Only one is allow to stay open by law.
            Question is which one?

            Two buildings full of classrooms. Each classroom has X number of students, studying together for Y hours each day. Only one is allowed by law to stay open. Which one?

            1. The state owns/operates one school. Their prerogative to close if they so choose. Doesn’t then grant them license to close other people’s operations while leaving other properties, that operate under similar logistics and risk, open. You guys are WAY to hung up on schools can only be viewed as schools rather than the fundamental aspect of what occurs there and how it is similar to other places re: Covid risk. The kids reading books doesn’t make Covid more or less contagious than other places were people spend hours in the same building together not reading books. The academic activity has zero bearing on the covid risk. Thus, it is irrelevant to determining what other things are “like” the schools re: Covid.

              1. If you’re claiming that the state lacks the authority to close other, non-religious private schools, then what does the Free Exercise clause have to do with any of this?

                And yes, we’re “way hung up” that schools should be judged as schools, because otherwise you’re essentially falling into exactly the narrow tailoring analysis in deciding the appropriate denominator for the comparison that Blackman warns about in the article. If a state’s basic, common-sense determinations in matters of public health in an emergency – and nothing is more common-sense than thinking that a school is a school is a school, and it doesn’t become a casino just because it’s run by Catholics – get subjected to this level of second-guessing, then Free Exercise becomes a trump card elevating any religious activity over any secular activity, which is a complete and total perversion of two centuries of jurisprudence.

                1. “state” and “basic, common sense” do not belong in the same sentence.

                2. What makes a school so distinct from another building full of people during an epidemic? Why is closing the school, all schools, allowable… even those that are privately owned… but not closing other buildings that logistically are the same but simply don’t have “teachers” and “students” inside?

                  The denominator issues IS the issue. That’s the whole argument against the state’s unreasonable action. Because to use a different denominator requires us to say “Covid risk, in buildings called schools but with “xyz” logistics are MORE dangerous than buildings called casinos with “xyz” logistics.” That ignores the scientifically relevant similarities between all places of activity and instead asks us to accept edicts based on signs on the front of a building as the true determiner of Covid risk.

              2. “The state owns/operates one school. Their prerogative to close if they so choose.”

                No. The state neither owns nor operates the school — the local school district does. It may be a municipality, it may be a county, or (most often) a unique governmental entity consolidating the schools of several municipalities. (I know of one district that consists of just one plantation, but is a separate legal entity from the plantation.)

                The state regulates the schools — but doesn’t run them — and those who do really don’t have the prerogative to close them because they will have to make up the days at the end of the year if *they* decide to close. And have enough days left at the end of the year in order to do it. And not have their teachers go on strike if they wind up going into July.

                An example: In Maine’s Aroostook County, most school districts have a 2-week vacation in mid-September so that the kids can go work the potato harvest. It’s also the best weather of the whole year up there, and while mechanization has reduced the need for labor to pick potatoes, it’s become a popular family vacation time.

                In order to meet Maine’s minimum day requirement, they start the school year in mid-August. Conversely, schools in the tourism areas of the state will never start before Labor Day (because the kids are needed to work in the tourist-oriented businesses) and orient their schedules accordingly.

                And bureaucrats are bureaucrats.

                Hence the need of the governmental fiat to shut down the governmental schools — that decision isn’t actually the prerogative of the people running them….

                1. Gotta quibble with you, Dr Ed. Under US law, counties, municipalities and school boards are all subordinate elements of their respective states. They have no legal existence independent of the state. That’s why, for example, they are subject to the First Amendment.

                  Some states do allow their subordinate entities limited independent authority but that can be withdrawn by the same legislature that granted it.

                  So in every legal sense, yes the state does own and operate the schools even if they choose to exercise that control indirectly through subordinates.

                  1. No, not always the legislature, it depends on what the state constitution says — some explicitly state that K-12 is a local responsibility to be done at local expense. Others (NH, MA) aren’t clear and there have been suits by poor districts demanding state aid.

                    And then there is reality and while (in theory) it may be legislative authority ceded to other entities, political (and legal) reality is that they are distinct entities who can sue and be sued in their own names. Etc.

                    Bear in mind that the state government itself isn’t a singular entity.

                    1. All of which does not change that, from a Constitutional standpoint, every subdivision of state government is subject to the 1st amendment, all the way down.

                      I’d argue that even HOA’s are sufficiently like government that they should be forced to comply with the Constitution.

        2. “I don’t think conservatives are going to like the results when mosques and madrasas pick up on the implications.”

          I’m fine with it. Religious freedom is important, no matter the religion.

          1. The caricatures progs paint of conservatives is strictly from their own inconsistencies, which they project back to conservatives.

          2. Me too. I am a Christian Conservative, and I think it is essential to protect religious freedom for all religions.

            My altruistic side believes this because it is simply right and fair.

            My selfish side realizes that if they can interfere with the free exercise of someone else’s religion, they can interfere with mine.

        3. “on the principle that the courts are in a better position to decide what kind of activities are like other activities for the purposes of public health regulation than are public health regulators”

          Not true, but you obviously read the news only to confirm your own opinions.

        4. “The Sixth is granting religious schools preferential treatment over secular schools because they are religious,”

          How so? The (private) secular schools haven’t sued for their own injunction — and until they do and are denied it, you can’t say that the parochial schools are being given preference.

          All the Sixth said was that the parochial schools couldn’t be shut down while gyms, tanning salons, and casinos were permitted to remain open — the question of if private secular ones could be shut down wasn’t before the court and I didn’t see them answering it.

          Furthermore, as simplistic as I may be, I still see the issue I mentioned above being involved here — the shutdown order actually being a permission to shut down without having to make up the days. It would be a factor not only as to how the state education laws (and more importantly admin rules) are written — and then (even more importantly) how they are interpreted.

          It’s difficult enough to figure that out in my own state — I’m not going to venture a guess as to what Ohio’s rules (written and unwritten) are. I’m just saying that (to the best of my knowledge) every state has a minimum number of hours/days of instruction and that any shutdown has to include an exemption from that.

        5. “in order to, as Scalia warned, make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.”

          Well, good, if that’s what they’re doing. “Rights” are just precisely domains where every citizen IS a law unto themselves, where what the government wants isn’t supposed to matter, because the individual is the one calling the shots.

          The problem with Scalia’s approach to religious liberty is that it doesn’t even make religious liberty a tie breaker, all it bars is actual animus against religious exercise. It’s one step short of abolishing religious liberty altogether!

          1. Prohibiting the targeting of religion is a very far cry from abolishment. To the contrary, just about everything else can be abolished. Religion stands apart because it can’t be.

            1. I didn’t say that prohibiting targeting of religion was one step short of abolishing “religion”, I said it was one step short of abolishing “religious liberty”.

              It allows you to suppress religious liberty in almost any imaginable way, so long as you do so with a “generally applicable law”. The only thing the 1st amendment protects religion against, in Scalia’s view, is active animus. It can be collateral damage all day long.

              It’s the least protective version of religious liberty short of none at all.

              1. Prohibiting the targeting of religious liberty is a very far cry from abolishment. To the contrary, just about every other liberty can be abolished. Religious liberty stands apart because it can’t be.

        6. Secular schools consist of two types. Government-run schools which are subject to the arbitrary whims of their employer-owner and secular private schools who were not a party to this suit. I think if secular private schools had joined the suit, the court would have gotten to the same outcome with the same basic reasoning.

          And not being a conservative, I’m not worried in the slightest about mosques and madrasas following these precedents. But neither are any conservatives that I know. Private schools of any religious orientation are still subject to state-set curriculum requirements.

          1. “Private schools of any religious orientation are still subject to state-set curriculum requirements.”

            That’s not as absolute as you might think — there was an interesting Federal suit in Maine back in the ’80s over it, and both the state and the Christian schools decided to settle out of court because neither was sure that they were going to win. So they compromised.

            As a general rule, private schools aren’t required to hire certified teachers but prefer to because it helps their accreditation. Accreditation, of course, is a private (non-state) entity and voluntary.

            1. Remember one thing, though: Competition.

              The religious schools have to convince parents to voluntarily enroll their children in them, they have to convince parents that their children will get a better education there, and (usually) convince their parents to pay significant tuition for it.

              Parents won’t do this if the schools suck.

              1. Every parent I’ve known sends their child to the school where they think the child will get the best education. Sometimes this means religious schools, sometimes they find the child doesn’t best fit a religious school and places them in a public school. For some reason, anti-choice people think only public schools should be legally allowed. Having been in religious, public, and private-secular schools I believe giving an option is best. No one single type is the best fit and what may be appropriate at one age for a child may not be best at another.

                https://www.wsj.com/articles/school-choice-better-than-prozac-11608248279

        7. “The Sixth is granting religious schools preferential treatment over secular schools because they are religious”

          Yes, because we literally have a Constitution that says that religion is special.

    2. It’s not that it’s permissible because there’s some allowed secular activity, it’s just that at that point the regulation gets strict scrutiny.

      A jurisdiction that did the homework to make a strict scrutiny case could keep its regulations. So far it looks like very few did the work up front, so they’re not holding up well in the preliminary stages.

      If the cases ever get litigated, it’s possible the regulations will fare better, if the states and cities can back them up. (Most everybody’s on board with compelling government interest. Things get dicey for narrow tailoring and least restrictive.)

    3. That’s not actually how strict scrutiny works…

    4. What’s insane is that people actually believe that a right enshrined in the constitution should be treated less favorably than one that’s not.

      This is truly frightening for future, more manufactured emergencies.

    5. No, bratschewurst, the “insanity” is that the government can shut any of them down. Never before have we quarantined healthy people, never before have we shut down a healthy economy.

      It would be like the stock market hadn’t crashed in 1929 but that then New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt had shut it down. And we have the makings for a worse economic morass than the Great Depression because Calvin Coolidge had paid down the national debt in the 1920’s — we didn’t then have the debt we now do.

      The insanity is how a bunch of Democratic Governors (along with a RINO) did something that clearly didn’t work and sabotaged what had been a roaring economy in the process. The insanity is that we, a once free people, tolerated any of this…

    6. But, the case was not about the government allowing outdoor, socially distanced businesses and events, or essential businesses like grocery stores. It was about “gyms, tanning salons, office buildings, and a large casino” being allowed to remain open, while all religious schools were forced to shut down.

      With the possible exception of certain office buildings the other businesses were clearly no more essential that religious schools and arguably less essential.

      Also, on the face, I don’t see how it would be possible to run those businesses with an acceptable level of safety, but impossible for schools.

  3. Let the clingers — these virus-flouting hayseeds drew a three-clinger panel — have their fun while they can. Decisions such as this one are likely to promote Court enlargement, which would be a welcome development in reasoning, educated, modern America.

    1. Kirkland may wish to learn from history…

    2. Keep clinging to your inane whining.

      1. I may enjoy the whining that develops after mainstream America stops accrediting conservatives’ nonsense-based schools.

        1. Kirkland, as someone who actually knows a little bit about education, I’d like to point out to you that students attending many (not all) of these religious schools actually have a better educational outcome than students attending the government-run schools.

          Without going too deeply into the weeds with the problems of assessment, which don’t apply here because your issue is the religious affiliation, the children attending the “nonsense-based” schools do better with standardized tests and do better with college admissions. (Those are the two metrics we currently use.)

          Parents are paying for their children to attend these schools, not because they are “nonsense based” but because the schools do a good job teaching children. That’s a fact…

          1. Harvard vs. Hillsdale, Williams vs. Wheaton, Berkeley vs. Biola, Carnegie Mellon vs. Calvin, Princeton vs. Notre Dame, Michigan vs. Liberty, Yale vs. Grove City, Wellesley vs. Regent, Wisconsin vs. Bob Jones, Johns Hopkins vs. Oral Roberts, NYU v. Ozarks, Columbia vs. Baylor, Swarthmore vs. Dallas, the average state university vs. Any-Directional Baptist . . .

            I know which side has been winning throughout my lifetime. I know which side is stomping the other currently. I know which side is positioned to continue to win. I know which side does not deserve accreditation. Conservative-controlled campuses vs. liberal-libertarian mainstream schools? It’s a rout.

            Clingers hardest hit.

            1. “the average state university vs. Any-Directional Baptist”

              Well Boston College is Catholic, not Baptist, but considering ZooMass to be better is a joke.

              And if you adjust for increase in knowledge, Hillsdale does better than Harvard.

              1. Dr Ed, that’s not relevant. Harvard is the Harvard of the world, but Boston College is the Harvard of New England.

            2. They’re not winning. They’re credentialed schools. They’re not necessarily any better. They just tout the line that law firms and government bureaus want to hear. Every one of those schools you disdain could line up their students in a competition against the Ivies and I’d bet money the other schools would win.

              So believe the nonsense you spew here daily, but down deep you know you feel inadequate, which is why you lash out against religious and conservative schools.

              1. A competition? What kind of competition you got in mind?

  4. Part of the problem is that the orders don’t generally take a categorical approach using well defined catagories but take a prescriptive approach based on ill defined priorities.

    1. It is confusing as it implies your eyes are short too, an extra brown removes confusion!
      I always find playing around with word order removes confusion and makes it cleaner and less elaborate.

  5. It’s a good decision by the courts, one that preserves religious freedom.

    But seriously, what were they thinking? Casinos open, but you can’t teach your kids in your own religion?

    1. We are talking about a democrat “thinking” here…

  6. the panel addresses what I have started to call the “denominator” question. What exactly can you compare the burdened religious activity to?

    Should the denominator be K-12 schools, all conduct where people gather, or something in between such as comparable conduct where people gather (whatever “comparable conduct” entails)? I agree Lukumi nor any precedent answers this question.

    It might be a good idea not to use these unusual COVID cases to set what might be far-reaching precedent affecting much more common applications.

    1. I think your denominator here has to be all non-essential services. Essential services are those things that stay open with there’s 5 feet of snow falling outside. Basically the following:
      1. Health care
      2. Fire and Police
      3. Basic groceries.

      When you start saying “Oh, Casinos can open and malls and gyms and sports stadiums and everything else…but not churches…and uh…..movie theaters.

      Then you’re not really operating under strict scrutiny.

      1. Firstly, I think you made the same mistake that Blackman warns against in his post: conflating the strict scrutiny analysis with the general-applicability analysis. We use the denominator to determine whether the law is generally applicable.

        Secondly, this case isn’t about churches. It’s about K-12 schools, both religious and secular.

        Thirdly per Eugene’s quote below, what principle permits courts to determine that the government’s interests justify excluding from the denominator only health care, fire, police and groceries?

        1. Josh R….I’m not sure I follow you = It’s about K-12 schools, both religious and secular.

          Are you saying the denominator is only state K-12 schools + parochial K-12 schools + private K-12 schools? If so, do you mean to imply that general applicability can only be evaluated using K-12 schools as the comparator.

          1. I’m saying that is one possible denominator. Another would include “comparable” gatherings. Yet another would include all gatherings.

            1. The “comparable” gatherings concept is broken.

              For example, let’s say we ban all non-profit gatherings of more than 40 people inside. Sounds great, right? And they can be compared to other non-profit gatherings of more than 40 people.

              1. From a free exercise of religion perspective, that regulation strikes me as generally applicable.

                1. And that logic is why such comparisons are broken. It de facto targets religious gatherings without explicitly naming them.

                  It would be like banning the ability of people with skin colors darker than “honey” from voting. Sure, you haven’t explicitly named African Americans. But you de facto have described the group….

                  1. If there was evidence that religious gatherings were the target, the law would not be neutral. However, the fact that there are many secular gatherings that would be affected is not sufficient to reach that conclusion. Your skin color analogy is inapt because that law facially discriminates on the basis of race.

                    1. Which secular gathererings are “non-profit gatherings of more than 40 people inside”? Are they….religious gatherings predominantly? (The answer is yes, BTW)

                      Does the “skin color” analogy also include people in it who merely have dark skin, but aren’t African American? Does it not include some African Americans? (the answer is yes to both, BTW)

                    2. There are scads and scads of non profits in the USA. For example, I am a member of a non-profit bridge club. We can’t hold our regular games in person if there is a 40-person limit.

                      The skin color analogy targets more than African Americans, and thus they might not be specifically targeted. But, so what? It specifically targets people because of their skin color, and that ends the analysis.

                    3. Your argument is you can’t play bridge if you don’t have at least 40 people in a single room?

                      Leaving aside the 6 foot distancing problem, you’ve gone into the realm of the absurd…

                    4. We can’t run our regular games because they draw about 60 people.

        2. 1. I was basically asking what could be “exempted” from a generally applicable law (closing all businesses) due to compelling government interest.

          General applicability and strict scrutiny here are working at cross purposes in many way. General applicability would be a law that handled everything equally. Strict scrutiny would be a law that was narrowly tailored to the government interest.

          The issue is, when you get a “generally applicable law” that is so narrow (IE we’re going to close non-profit organizations that seat more than 50 people inside on a weekly basis) or has so many exemptions that it in (IE, we’re going to close all businesses except this and this and this and this and this….) that the effect isn’t really generally applicable. And that’s the situation that we’re in today.

          2. This particular law is about schools, but it’s the same infringement on religion and the first amendment that is important.

          3. “Different types of conduct” is too narrow a way to type to discriminate legally, especially when you’re doing it to infringe on people’s rights. The best way to do this is a blanket law that really does affect everything and everyone (IE, mask mandates, fire codes, etc). Or not do it, aside from what was determined above (IE, actual essential services for life”)

          1. That’s kind of where I am at on this. Employment Division v Smith should be narrowed by the simple expedient of strict treatment of general applicability.

            A law that treats all persons/legal entities identically is generally applicable, a law that does not treat all persons/legal entities identically is not generally applicable and therefore does not fall under Smith’s doctrine that 1A does not require religious exemptions to generally applicable laws.

            1. Since virtually every law or regulation has exemptions, the doctrine that Armchair and Slyfield advocate for would de facto reverse Smith. For example, anti-discrimination law typically exempts businesses with very few employees (less than 15 in federal law). Under the Armchair/Slyfield doctrine, strict scrutiny would apply to the law as applied to an employer who had a religiously-based objection to hiring a gay person. That sounds quite wrong to me.

              1. I didn’t argue you couldn’t have exceptions. I argued, those exceptions need to pass strict scrutiny, when you’re infringing on Constitutional Rights.

                The ADA doesn’t really apply, because it’s not a Constitutional right.

                1. I didn’t say you argued otherwise. Repeating with added emphasis

                  Under the Armchair/Slyfield doctrine, strict scrutiny would apply to the law as applied to an employer who had a religiously-based objection to hiring a gay person. That sounds quite wrong to me.

      2. Don’t forget strip clubs. Those strippers have a First Amendment Right to take off their clothes and those are rights that matter. (No kidding, in my states they are also an “essential” business…)

      3. Then you’re not really operating under strict scrutiny.

        Armchair, is your argument that legislative means for effecting permissible ends should be under strict scrutiny? Or is your argument that the ends themselves should be under strict scrutiny? Or do you think everything should be under strict scrutiny? Do you recognize any constitutional differences among those choices?

      4. It’s interesting – and revealing – that you think defining “essential services” can be so straightforward and self-evident. It reminds me of all the COVID warriors I encounter online who think that year-long shutdowns to prevent the spread are just, you know, “fine,” in order to stop the spread. It’s not a particularly thoughtful approach to the vexing and nuanced policy issues at play.

        Just walk through your limited examples a bit. What about the following:

        Child care? People working in health care, public safety, and grocery stores often have children, and they don’t necessarily have back-up options for caring for their small children (especially if schools are closed). Do we open child care facilities? Just for essential workers?

        Liquor stores and big box retailers – you describe “basic groceries” as essential. But what about places like Walmart and Target, who may offer some grocery options? Do you give a competitive advantage to “grocery only” stores, or do you expand further to a broader class of retail stores that offer both groceries and other consumer items? Same question applies to limited retailers like liquor stores – should you give grocery stores a competitive advantage over liquor stores, by forcing them to close, or do you expand to include liquor stores?

        Automotive and bike shops and retailers – Gorsuch scoffed at including bike shops in the list of essential businesses, but like car mechanics and car sellers, they serve an essential function during a pandemic, where transit may not be available, limited, or unsafe. Ditto for gas stations, convenience stores, hardware stores (are you supposed to go without light bulbs in your home or replacement parts when your sink starts leaking), kitchen supply stores (when everyone’s cooking), drug stores, and so on. We can’t get everything we need to weather an extended pandemic at “basic grocery” stores, and the more we broaden the categories of “essential” businesses, the more unfair competitive advantages we start to introduce.

        When you get to entertainment options like casinos and movie theaters, it becomes easier to draw the line – we can see why these things are not “essential.” But by then we’ve created so many exceptions that we’re starting to undermine the argument that our law shutting all but the “essential businesses” can be generally-applicable.

        1. 1. Re: Child care.
          No, it’s not an essential service. Child care services were shut down for months during the pandemic. Believe me, I know. Again, if it’s open during a snow storm with 5 feet of snow coming down, it’s essential. Child care services are not.

          2. Liquor stores. Not essential.

          3. Target and Walmart. Not essential.

          4. Automotive and bike shops and retailers. Not essential. These shut down during major snow storms.

          5. Gas stations. These stay open during major snowstorms. Essential.

          6. Hardware stores. Not essential (they close). Kitchen supply stores. Very much so, they close. Not essential.

          7. Pharmacies. These are considered essential, and stay open during major crises and snowstorms, at least in some locations

          Does that help?

          1. I don’t think you can apply a snowstorm standard to what is essential and non-essential.

            A snowstorm typically shuts businesses down for a day or two. Other than hospitals and and maybe a few other things, we can pretty much do without any business for a day or two.

            Also, businesses that shutdown during a snowstorm typically do so voluntarily because workers and/or customers would have great difficulty getting to the businesses.

            Also, stores like Target and Walmart sell groceries, and have pharmacies, so they should be considered as essential as grocery stores or pharmacies. Does it make sense for them to ONLY be allowed to sell “essential” items, when they are open anyway? (This was done in Michigan, I believe).

            I think it would be counterproductive to allow supermarkets to stay open, but not Walmart and Target. Doing this would only larger crowds at supermarkets, making social distancing more difficult. The same is true of the absurd, counterproductive curfews that have been implemented in many places. If businesses are forced to close by 8 or 9PM, it only creates larger crowds during the hours they can be open, which would tend to cause the virus to spread more.

            For the record, in NYS, in the height of the shutdowns, liquor stores were considered “essential”.

    2. I would be remiss if I didn’t include Eugene’s take on the denominator

      whether two kinds of conduct should be treated alike calls for the same sort of normative and practical judgment about government interests (and rival private interests) that is called for by the decision about whether certain conduct should be restricted. […] , regrettably, the
      courts have no principled way of determining when the differences are great enough to justify different treatment. […] there is no principled way to administer a constitutional exemption system, even when the law also exempts some behavior (again, for reasons entirely apart from religion).

    3. It might be a good idea not to use these unusual COVID cases to set what might be far-reaching precedent affecting much more common applications.

      After nearly a year, throughout which the time frame that things will return to the way they were before has been incrementally pushed out with no realistic end in sight, I think the word “unusual” just doesn’t hunt anymore.

      Put differently: had these stifling restrictions really been the short-term crisis management tools they were first sold as, we wouldn’t be seeing an increasing raft of decisions like this. A number of the early opinions upholding the restrictions made exactly this point.

      1. We remain in a short-term crisis that we expect to end in 2021.

        1. Yeah, we started this debacle with “14 days to slow the spread.” Then it became “30 days,” then “just bear down through the summer so we can put this behind us,” and so on. Even setting aside the broad-as-a-barn target you’ve set with “in 2021,” it requires an enormous degree of faith in a set of actors who collectively have an astoundingly poor track record to date to truly believe that’s suddenly going to stick.

          Watch for further incremental disclosures of the truth re the (lack of long-term) effectiveness of the vaccines — for the subpopulation that agrees to play guinea pig with them, which is turning out to be, to put it politely, not particularly robust.

          At that point, people will either have to decide they actually don’t need to be as hyper-fixated on this particular virus as the apocalyptic crowd said they did, or the party will keep going. I hope very much for the former, but that’s going to require such a comprehensive loss of face around the globe that it strikes me as a heavy lift indeed.

        2. This is not short term under any reasonable understanding of the term.

        3. Josh R…We’ve lost a lot of our individual liberties with this ‘short term crisis’ that ‘you expect’ to end in 2021. The precedents we are setting now are not good = declare emergency absent the legislature, and then stripped of rights for duration of emergency by executive order.

          We need to correct very bad actions by governors before they become normalized.

          1. Any emergency declared without approval of the legislature has been handled by state courts. Rights secured by the constitution such as assembly, speech and free exercise are being judged by the judiciary as well.

        4. A year or more is NOT a “short term” crisis.

  7. The clingers who expect this ‘heads we win, tails you lose’ approach to prevail with respect to snowflake privileges for superstition are the same dumbasses who expect Donald Trump to be inaugurated in three weeks consequent to illusory voter fraud. They also figured Trump would build the wall, get Mexico to pay for it, lock Hillary Clinton up, bring back coal, and generally enable half-educated, downscale, backwater White males to prosper at the expense of the better, “elite” citizens they resent.

    See you further on up the road — which is paved by the liberal-libertarian mainstream, in the reality-based world — clingers.

    1. And if you keep on pushing people the way the left has been doing so the last four years sooner later something is going to burst…

      1. What scares me is that the left neither understands populism nor history — and hence is somehow convinced that it will never happen.

        1. I really don’t know what is going to happen on January 6th. There are buses in my area heading to DC. Dozens of people I know are going and those are people who usually would never do anything like that. You can see a lot of grassroots organizing online, the kind the Right almost never sees.

          My gut tells me it fizzles. Maybe 150,000 to 200,000 which is enough to press the point. But not enough that the media can’t ignore it or get away with its usual reporting hatchet job.

          1. My gut feeling is that it will get very, very ugly.

            I first dealt with Antifa 20 years ago, they weren’t calling themselves that then, but it was the same organized confederation of local radicals and their followers. Their philosophy, then and now, is that they “will not permit” certain activities to take place, and this falls directly into that category.

            Antafa might be able to muster a few thousand, and if MAGA gets the 150,000-200000 you estimate, will be neutered by sheer numbers. Antafa, like all bullies, are inherent cowards and only do things when they outnumber their victims 10:1.

            My advice to anyone going is STAY WITH THE GROUP! At all costs, be in a group and stay with it, as bad things are going to happen to stragglers. Form a circle, women on the inside, and own that land . No one else gets into your circle unless you chose to — and be very careful who you let in.

            Move as a group — not as a flying wedge but as an oval because it is important to secure your rear — you need both a front and a rear point person, and the person in the front needs to make sure that the person in the rear is keeping up, do not allow your oval to expand too much.

            As long as you are in a group of 30-50 people, you’ll be OK. It’s the people who aren’t that are going to get hurt. And the real wild card is the extent to which that incites revenge violence on our side — and I’m thinking January 20th…

    2. “White males to prosper at the expense of the better, “elite” citizens”= typical RAK bigotry

  8. While it makes sense to emphasize that “comparability” should be measured according to the interests of the state in regulating various activities, rather than pedantically drawing one-to-one comparisons of literal actions being performed, in the context of a pandemic the distinction simply invites ends-motivated reasoning (as it seems to have done, here).

    Churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions are appropriately regulated more tightly in order to prevent the spread of a contagious respiratory virus specifically insofar as they are places where people typically gather in large numbers, engage in singing and speaking, and do so for extended periods of time. We can and should regulate them the same way we would regulate any “secular” gathering that involves similar kinds of activities and so, similar kinds of risks. But what we should not do is draw sloppy comparisons to casinos, liquor stores, grocery stores, and other “secular” contexts where the risks are patently different because the underlying behavior is substantially different.

    This is not even particularly hard to demonstrate. We have several examples of superspreading events by now – these tend to have been religious services, indoor parties, and similar gatherings, secular and religious. Those are comparable.

    But this doesn’t seem to be the Sixth Circuit’s (or Josh’s) approach to this question. Rather, the shift in the comparability analysis from discrete behaviors to state interests allows the Sixth Circuit to obscure how it’s putting its thumb on the scales in order to achieve the desired outcome. The state interests in question are described vaguely and at a high level. And since just about any public gathering poses some risks, a handful of people in a liquor store for ten-fifteen minutes at a time, saying little and with masks on, gets glommed together with hour-plus-long religious services where people are singing praise, talking to their neighbors, and mixing with one another.

    This is an obnoxious approach to the analysis that is sure to have broad ramifications, most of which will not be desired by anyone on the conservative right, and so will require a degree of doctrinal incoherence to reconcile – beyond the immediate effect, of course, which will be to kill thousands more people during the pandemic.

    1. This is a really good post that highlights the problem of the comparison doctrine: choosing the correct comparison can’t readily be decoupled from the desired outcome.

      Eugene thus concluded there is no principled way to implement a constitutionally-based exemption scheme, and he thinks exemptions only play a role when religious exercise is the only thing not being exempted (and thus religion is being targeted).

      On the other hand, it is principled to have the “most-favored” nation standard where any exemption triggers strict scrutiny. But since virtually every law or regulation has an exemption, that’s de facto reversing Smith.

      I am starting to be persuaded there is no middle ground here. Either its Smith and rational-basis review applies unless religion is targeted, or not Smith and strict scrutiny always applies.

      1. Would it really be ‘bad’ = not Smith and strict scrutiny always applies.

        1. In my opinion, yes. For example, it would be bad if an employer with a religious objection could refuse to hire a gay person because the anti-discrimination law exempted employers with fewer than fifteen employees.

  9. Every word Josh Blackman writes here should be published in book form: “How To Get And Keep A Job At A Last-Tier Law School” (With All Of The Federalist-Funded Travel You Desire).

  10. where people typically gather in large numbers, engage in singing and speaking,

    Typically? I grew up Roman Catholic and I wouldn’t say that large numbers of people singing or speaking is typical of RC services.
    At least when I’ve gone to RC services, the congregation doesn’t speak much; there are a few responses– but not many. Most people mumble. The congregation could remain utterly silent if that was ordered and that wouldn’t be a problem. When I was a kid, our congregation (and as far as I could tell most RC congregations) did not sing. For the most part, only the choir sang. They were off to the side, and could also be silenced if required. (I often sang because… well… what else is there to do when you are forced to go? I would get funny looks. )

    If speaking and signing was the concern, the ordinance could have been tailored to address speaking and singing specifically while still allowing services. That might have still affected some faiths that might require lots of speaking or signing, but it’s possible even they might have found something that worked for them. Instead, governors have made broad rules that restrict worship almost no matter what the congregation would be willing to do to reduce transmission.

    1. Well, I’m Roman Catholic, and at least in my experience, singing is pretty typical, or at least was until they took away the hymnals because there wasn’t a practical way to quickly sanitize them.

      Even after that, you still get some singing if it’s a hymn most people know the lyrics to. Especially the hymns that are also Christmas carols.

      But it’s not like the singing is obligatory, you’re right about that.

      1. I’ll admit my memories are from the late 70s. Singing was certainly suggested. The hymn was announced. The organ played. A cantor usually sang to help the congregants along. But honestly, at most masses, as far as I could tell, in the pews, singing was either muted or not happening . (I was in Illinois.) I think there was a period when the hymnals changed. The adults weren’t familiar with the hymns from their youths.

        Maybe it’s changed. But there really wasn’t much singing at the services when I took my mother-in-law to mass because she couldn’t drive. (That was in the 2000s.)

        Obviously, I haven’t been to all RC parishes everywhere.

        But whether I’m right or wrong, I know singing isn’t required. Mass could be held with no songs at all. So the claim that the numbers had to be limited to 10 because of the “singing” is ridiculous. They could have simply announced “no singing” and even the most songful of Roman Catholic parishes would have prayed silently.

        The excuse those supporting Cuomo’s and other governors orders give is silly. If his concern was singing, he could have just said “no singing”.

        1. The Roman Catholic church HAS been around for a while, and has gotten through it’s fair share of plagues. We have protocols for this.

          The Church is actually ahead of most institutions in this regard.

          1. Yes. My mom watches mass online. She told me the various things her parish is doing.

            I think you won’t agree with this, but you might still enjoy reading
            Why Don’t Catholics Sing?
            https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3554

    2. Having grown up Baptist… I would have LOVED a service that was no singing, just the sermon. Knocks about an hour of off the total service time, keeps us from standing/sitting/standing/sitting which gets really tiring, doesn’t provide time for the “now go meet a stranger and act like your best friends and tell them you’re glad to see them at Church today” bit (which never made sense because the first timers all hid because they didn’t know anyone so everyone who did this part just went to go find friends who normally sat on the other side of the room… plus it normalized extrovert behavior and as in introvert I didn’t feel very considered by it)…. all of the things that did nothing to expand my understanding of the religion like a good, yet rare, sermon would.

      I suppose there are reasons I haven’t been to church in nearly five years, now, lol.

      1. I don’t know how long the typical Baptist service is (and for some reason one commenter above talks about 2 hours) but the typical Catholic Mass is 1 hr. The shortest I’ve ever seen was 35 minutes and eliminated all the optional parts (heat was out, it was February and COLD). Meanwhile, movie theaters are open and people sit down for 2+ hrs.

        By the way, the “go meet a stranger” part is to foster the church community. Community and affinity for your fellow congregant is a part of most religions.

        1. Fear has nothing to do with hair or lack thereof…. or for that matter any particular feature and appearance. It is the characteristics of a critter, rodent, or human and/or perceived potential or real harm from them, which instill fear in us.

Please to post comments