News and Commentary

AG Barr Taking ‘Action’ Against Gov Officials Who Regulate Religious Services
US Attorney General William Barr speaks at the Securities and Exchange Commission's Criminal Coordination Conference in Washington, DC, on October 3, 2019
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr will reportedly take “action” against government officials who “single out religious” organizations with social distancing enforcement measures as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China.

Barr spokeswoman Kerry Kupec made the announcement on Twitter, writing, “During this sacred week for many Americans, AG Barr is monitoring govt regulation of religious services. While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious orgs. Expect action from DOJ next week!”

The move comes as some government officials around the country have clamped down on church services and have even threatened to permanently close churches if they do not practice social distancing.

New York City Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened late last month to permanently close places of worship if they broke social distancing efforts aimed at reducing the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“The NYPD, Fire Department, Buildings Department, and everyone has been instructed that if they see worship services going on, they will go to the officials of that congregation, they’ll inform them they need to stop the services and disperse,” de Blasio said. “If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.”

On Friday, Kentucky Democrat Governor Andy Beshear announced that he would be sending police to churches this weekend to record the license plates of anyone who attends Easter services and is going to force them into quarantine for 14 days.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took a shot at Beshear on Twitter, writing, “Taking license plates at church? Quarantining someone for being Christian on Easter Sunday? Someone needs to take a step back here.”

Louisville Democrat Mayor Greg Fischer has banned drive-in religious services in parking lots during Passover and Easter.

USA Today reported though that by Saturday afternoon “a federal judge had rebuked the mayor’s directive to churches, calling the move overbroad and unconstitutional.”

Kansas Democrat Governor Laura Kelly also tried to ban religious services of more than 10 attendees with an executive order that was overturned in the state legislature.

In California, Democrat-appointed U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant “declined on Friday to allow a small Campo-based Christian church to assemble for Easter services on Sunday, turning aside a lawsuit the church had filed against San Diego County that alleged the public health orders banning group gatherings discriminated against religion,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

On Friday, President Donald Trump spoke about Easter during the White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing.

“Today is Good Friday. And this Sunday, millions of Christians celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Trump told a group of reporters during the nationally televised event. “At this holy time, we pray that God will heal the sick and comfort the heartbroken and bless our heroes. As American families look forward to Easter, we’re reminded that our story ends not in despair, but in triumph and renewal.  Very appropriate, isn’t it?”

This report has been updated to include additional information.