De Blasio's Threat on Churches Sparks Debate During This Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak: Religious Freedom

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Posted: Apr 03, 2020 1:25 PM
De Blasio's Threat on Churches Sparks Debate During This Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak: Religious Freedom

Source: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

As of today, there are over 240,000 Wuhan coronavirus cases in the United States. Over 6,000 people have died from it. New York City remains ground zero, where nearly half of all U.S. cases come from the Big Apple. It’s a mess. Yet, New Orleans is becoming the next hotbed. Both cities celebrated huge events in the weeks preceding their respective Wuhan viral explosions. NOLA had Mardis Gras, while New York celebrated Chinese New Year, exposing legions of people to the disease. Yet, another debate has popped up in recent days: religious freedom. I am not religious at all. I don’t go to church, though I respect those who do. Yet, with public gatherings being banned, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio threatening to permanently close places of worship that violate the new mandate, does the government have the power to do such a thing (via CNS News):

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is threatening to “permanently” close the meeting places of religious organizations that persist in holding services while the city is shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A small number of religious communities, specific churches, specific synagogues are unfortunately not paying attention to this guidance [to close] even though it's been so widespread,” de Blasio said in a briefing…

“So, I want to say to all those who are preparing the potential of religious services this weekend: if you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services,” he said.

[…]

In his briefing … de Blasio said he would be deploying the city’s police, fire and buildings departments to make sure religious services did not take place in the city. If congregations did not discontinue holding services in buildings within the city once they had been warned, his government would be “potentially closing the building permanently.”

Now, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t go to church, but we’re still the most religious industrialized nation in the world. People need their weekly prayer service. It may seem like tin foil hat talk to some, but there is no doubt that some governments are using this pandemic to take power-grabbing out for a spin. Keep an eye out on this sort of stuff. Now, that doesn’t mean every religious denomination is defying the rules. In the age of the Internet, some have offered digital services. Still, the notion that de Blasio will outright shut down religious institution indefinitely obviously raised some eyebrows  (via RCP):

It wasn’t so much the ban on religious gatherings that bothered spiritual leaders. Most churches, synagogues and mosques were already abiding by similar rules aimed at flattening the pandemic curve put in place across the nation. But the threat of closing down churches and other religious groups forever sparked the biggest backlash.

The First Liberty Institute, a conservative organization focused on protecting Americans’ ability to practice the religion of their choice, said de Blasio’s statement crossed the line from protecting people in a pandemic to totalitarian action against churches and religious institutions.

Also, I’m sure there will be other stories about how de Blasio outright dropped the ball responding to this outbreak. He failed. He was told by NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot on March 10 that the city should take drastic measures to clamp down in order to contain the spread. He refused, even telling people that if they’re healthy—they should still go out. Now, his city is a total and complete mess, though he hasn’t passed up an opportunity to slam President Trump or suggest we nationalize industries to combat this disease, reminding us that leftists never waste a crisis in order for them to spew their fantasy land agenda items.