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Churches want equal treatment

Churches in this state want equal treatment with the shopping malls, casinos, bars and restaurants, tattoo parlors, barbershops and hair salons when it comes to government restrictions on their operations.

Thursday, the Catholic bishops of Minnesota and the Missouri Lutheran Synod announced their intention to defy Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 emergency orders. Starting May 26, Catholic and Missouri Synod churches are going to start scheduling services, leading up to Sunday, May 31, which is Pentecost Sunday. They will be limiting attendance to 33 percent, with congregants allowed only in every third pew, and maintaining social distancing between family groups.

While all of the establishments listed above will be able to open for business by June 1, at least in a partial capacity, letting in up to 50 percent of their capacity, churches continue to be limited to holding services for no more than 10 people at a time. It makes no sense. And church leaders say it is unconstitutional. As the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Churches voluntarily stopped holding services and activities before the governor’s executive orders, and they shouldn’t need his permission to start up again. They certainly shouldn’t be considered more dangerous to one’s health than casinos or tattoo parlors.

We hope Gov. Walz will “see the light” and treat churches with the same respect he gives all the other establishments.

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