PA House Passes Religious Freedom Protections, Keeps Churches Free to Remain Open for Worship

September 15, 2020 | 4 comments | Posted in Church, Religious Freedom | Tags: , , , ,

First Amendment rights include the ability to gather for worship and COVID-19 does not erase this right.

(HARRISBURG, PA)  By a substantial margin, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today voted to pass House Bill 2530, and protect the right of Pennsylvanians to gather in worship without infringement by the government.

“The ability to fully exercise their religion is guaranteed to citizens in the Bill of Rights and the Pennsylvania Constitution – and yet has come into question in recent months under emergency mandates,” said Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel of the Pennsylvania Family Institute. “No single individual should have the power to shut down churches and other houses of worship – even if that person is the governor.” 

Pastors and other religious leaders play a critical role in providing for the physical, emotional and spiritual health of many of our fellow citizens, as does the ability to gather together to freely worship God.  

Under the emergency declarations issued here in Pennsylvania, there were several weeks where many church leaders did not know whether and under what conditions they were permitted to meet. Local law enforcement shared the confusion. We’re grateful that the Wolf administration ultimately clarified that churches can freely meet. 

But that was not a given – since without HB 2530, emergency powers would permit the governor to shut down churches and places of worship, clearly transgressing First Amendment protections.

”Government does have the responsibility to protect public health and safety — but not at the cost of trampling our constitutional liberties on an ongoing basis,” said Michael Geer, President of the Pennsylvania Family Institute.  “HB 2530 sensibly restrains the power of the Governor in order to protect our first freedom found in the Bill of Rights. We applaud the bill’s main sponsors, Reps. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga) and Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland), and the 147 other legislators for their support of this important legislation.”

House Bill 2530 now moves to the Pennsylvania State Senate for consideration. Click here to contact your State Senator in support of this bill.

Here’s the roll call from today’s vote (149-53):

4 Comments

Jim

Governor Tom Planned Parenthood Wolfe should be paying for his own legal expenses for his appeal and his attacks on the Catholic Church via the Little Sisters of the Poor SCOTUS challenge, the unfair allocation of COVID relief funds to private schools, his violation of the ADA when he vetoed the protection of disabled children from being killed in abortion, and the other anti-Christian actions by this Jewish Mafia and AG Shapiro and Med Dir Rachel Levine who moved her own mother to the Hershey Hotel while ordering nursing homes to accept infected patients without preparation, PPE or training! IMPEACH WOLF!

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Sam

We recently came across these links to publications (and updated since 7/1) on PA.gov.

https://www.governor.pa.gov/covid-19/business-guidance/

[Under “Gatherings and Events”: “These rules don’t apply to religious gatherings held by churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, or other places of worship. Though we do encourage religious institutions to follow mask wearing, physical distancing, and other general health and safety measures.”]

https://www.governor.pa.gov/covid-19/business-faq/

[Under “Are religious institutions required to suspend to suspend in-person gatherings?”: “The orders from July 15, 2020, do not apply to religious services. However, religious leaders are encouraged to find alternatives to in-person gatherings and to avoid endangering their congregants. While not required for religious gatherings, religious institutions are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines.”]

https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Guidance/Targeted-Mitigation-FAQ.aspx

The first two links have helped our church leadership team to update our church’s position on face coverings to be “optional but encouraged for those who desire them.”

In the third link it’s interesting to note that various businesses are directed to adhere to the face masking mandate but nothing is mentioned about that when it comes to religious institutions or houses of worship.

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