For Immediate Release: 3.27.20
Contact: Lacey McNiel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Religious Liberty Law Firm Urges Texas City to Alter Stay-At-Home Order to Respect Religious Liberty
Policy of McKinney, Texas singles out religious gatherings with limitations not applied to businesses or other similar entities
McKinney, TX—First Liberty Institute today urged city officials in McKinney, Texas to alter its mandatory stay-at-home orders to apply equally to churches. Under its current order, churches are subject to limitations not applied to businesses and other entities.
You can read First Liberty’s letter here.
“We have advised religious institutions to follow the CDC’s 15-day guidelines, but McKinney’s policy goes far beyond those guidelines and seems to be targeting religious exercise,” said Mike Berry, General Counsel at First Liberty. “Government officials must treat religious institutions equally with other comparable gatherings. McKinney has singled out religious services with special restrictions that do not apply to others, violating their religious liberty.”
On March 25, the Mayor of the City of McKinney ordered all McKinney residents to stay at home except to perform essential activities. The Mayor’s declaration specifically prohibits religious services except by video or teleconference and limited in-person staff providing such services to no more than ten people. A flyer initially released earlier this week by the City summarizing the restrictions indicates that even if two people gather for religious worship they are in violation.
In its letter, First Liberty argues that, “We write to inform you that these restrictions violate federal and state law. The City must address the ongoing public health crisis in a way that does not discriminate against religious exercise. Although it subjects churches to a strict ten-person staff limit, the Disaster Declaration notably does not impose such a limit on other entities engaging in similar activity. Restaurants providing drive through or take out service, for example, are not limited to ten in-person staff.”
Berry added, “We fully support protecting public health and safety, but the government doesn’t need to engage in religious discrimination to do so. It serves no legitimate interest, it is morally wrong, and it is unconstitutional. In fact, such discrimination is unhelpful, and it only serves to cause confusion at a time when clarity is of the utmost importance.
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.
To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at email@example.com or by calling 972-941-4453.