Easter Sunday is one of the most important days of the year for Christians around the globe. Yet the holiday will look much different this year during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of celebrating with fellow worshipers, most Christians will be celebrating Jesus's resurrection from their living rooms. Including Vice President Mike Pence. The CDC wants it that way, having issued guidelines that Americans avoid gatherings of more than ten people.
However, some churches are defying those guidelines on Sunday and holding Easter services as previously planned. Louisiana Pastor Tony Spell, for instance, was charged with half a dozen misdemeanors last week for defying government orders and proceeding with his in-person church services.
It's making officials justifiably nervous because COVID-19 is extremely contagious. But, did Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear go a step too far when he announced that authorities would be writing down the license plate numbers of anyone they see attending church this Lord's Day?
"For those who decide to participate in a mass gathering of any type of which the state is notified of, the license plates of those individuals will be recorded and given to health department officials," News Channel 5 Nashville reported. "They will then visit the individuals home bringing with them an order to quarantine for 14 days."
Conservative critics Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) thought Beshear was overstepping his authority.
Taking license plates at church? Quarantining someone for being Christian on Easter Sunday? Someone needs to take a step back here.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 11, 2020
Kentucky Governor Announces Plan to Record License Plates of Easter Church Goers and Force Them to Quarantine for 14 Days https://t.co/z7U42liQRh
Beshear did not, however, completely oppose drive-through church services. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron encouraged religious Kentuckians to use the method for their Sunday worship, arguing that they should have that right as long as drive-through services are still available for liquor stores, restaurants and other businesses.
"As long as religious groups and worshippers are complying with current Centers for Disease Control recommendations for social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, we see no problem with these drive-in services," Cameron said. “Religious organizations should not be treated any differently than other entities that are simultaneously conducting drive-through organizations, while also abiding by social distancing policies."
Judge Justin Walker, who was recently nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court, issued a restraining order on Saturday allowing for drive-through church service in Louisville. Kentucky Republicans Mitch McConnell and Sen. Paul approved.
Grateful for this strong, eloquent ruling defending Kentuckians’ religious liberty from Judge Justin Walker, @POTUS’s outstanding nominee for the D.C. Circuit. Of course church parking lots cannot be singled out with unfair standards that differ from other establishments. https://t.co/uS0V9lJ2uX— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) April 11, 2020
Thank God for a judge who understands the First Amendment prevents the government from prohibiting the free government exercise of religion.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 11, 2020
COVID-19 in Kentucky: Judge grants church's request to hold services https://t.co/FMPfOe9GB0
Sanity. https://t.co/1s2y7fWZor— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 11, 2020
No matter how or where you're celebrating this Sunday, a very Happy Easter to you all!