Over 250 Christian leaders in Massachusetts wrote a letter to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, released Thursday, asking that churches be declared “essential.” Most of the state remains shut down over the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are fully prepared to exercise extraordinary care and precaution to protect the health of our members and our broader communities,” the letter states, according to NewBostonPost. “Loving our neighbors is part of who we are as a church. We are capable of following the guidelines for social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, just as other businesses Massachusetts has deemed essential. We are able to take the same precautions that their staff and customers have taken.”
Massachusetts is currently under a stay-at-home order effective through May 18. Baker announced earlier this week that he was easing some restrictions on outdoor activities including golf courses, following threats of disobedience from business owners. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Jan.21: Fauci Say Coronavirus ‘Not A Major Threat’ To U.S.)
Baker also recently announced the creation of the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board, which does not currently include a religious leader. (RELATED: California County Defies Governor Newsom Shutdown Order, Allows Businesses To Reopen)
“We note with disappointment that, despite the 8,000 churches in the Bay State and the millions who worship in and are served by them, they have no representation on that board,” the religious leaders wrote.
Churches across the country have been required to discontinue in-person services due to the virus, raising First Amendment concerns for some. Attorney General Bill Barr has ordered U.S. attorneys to be on the “lookout” for violations of religious liberty. The Department of Justice also recently became involved in the case of a Virginia church claiming their right to practice their religion has been violated.