Religious fundamentalists leave no stone unturned when it comes to exercising their influence over our government, and a global pandemic is no exception. At least 12 out of the 38 states that have issued statewide stay-at-home orders have granted exemptions for religious gatherings, in blatant disregard for public safety.
Jews for a Secular Democracy issued Action Alerts to our supporters in Michigan and Florida urging their respective Governors to remove the religious exemption. If you identify as Jewish and are a Michigan or Florida voter, you can contact your Governor here. If you’re a voter in another state with a religious exemption and want to take action, please contact our Community Organizer, Lincoln Dow.
While most religious congregations and denominations have abided by the order, connecting virtually like most other non-profits, businesses, and most Americans, some have openly flouted or even mocked the rules.
In Florida, a megachurch pastor who defied local stay-at-home orders was arrested. “It’s unfortunate that the pastor here is hiding behind the First Amendment,” the county’s sheriff said. Governor DeSantis then issued a stay-at-home order and a memo that specifically named religious services as “essential” and explicitly overruled local orders that say otherwise.
Christian fundamentalist David Benham was arrested in Charlotte for violating a stay-at-home order when he reportedly organized 50 people to protest outside an abortion clinic. Senator Ted Cruz and national Christian fundamentalist groups are decrying this is as an “unconstitutional” violation of religious liberty and First Amendment rights. The executive director of the clinic told the Charlotte Observer “the protesters were not following social distancing during previous protests, and did not wear gloves or masks when they approached patients coming into the clinic to speak with them, distribute literature and to try to convince them not to have an abortion.”
We encourage all Americans to be safe and follow guidelines set by the experts, with no unnecessary or dangerous exemptions!
What you can do:
While we practice social distancing, Jews for a Secular Democracy is educating and engaging our community on these issue through a series of virtual events empowering our supporters to write to their lawmakers. You can make a difference and support our work by encouraging others to sign up for our newsletter, sign up to volunteer, write to your lawmakers, and donate to the initiative to sustain our work.