The Volokh Conspiracy
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Texas Law Deems Houses of Worship As "Essential" At All Times, Including During Disasters
State and local governments may not "prohibit a religious organization from engaging in religious and other related activities"
Last week, Texas Governor Abbott signed HB 525. This law ensures that houses of worship will always be deemed "essential," and cannot be restricted during disasters.
(a) Notwithstanding any other law, a religious organization is an essential business at all times in this state, including during a declared state of disaster, and the organization 's religious and other related activities are essential activities even if the activities are not listed as essential in an order issued during the disaster.
(b) A governmental entity may not:
(1)At any time, including during a declared state of disaster, prohibit a religious organization from engaging in religious and other related activities or continuing to operate in the discharge of the organization 's foundational faith-based mission and purpose; or
(2) during a declared state of disaster order a religious organization to close or otherwise alter the organization 's purposes or activities.
More states should be proactive, and ensure that constitutionally protected activities–including the rights of free exercise and the right to keep and bear arms–are always deemed "essential."