by Jorge Gomez & Sydney Swift • 5 min read
From California to New York, government officials continue to impose strict and discriminatory restrictions on churches. In the most egregious cases, we’ve seen governors downgrade houses of worship and their religious freedom to second-class status…treating them as non-essential and even forcing them to shut their doors, all while allowing restaurants, bars, casinos and even marijuana dispensaries to operate at higher capacities.
But even in the face of unconstitutional restrictions, people of faith are leaving their buildings and finding new, innovative ways to worship.
Praying at the Casino
The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to grant emergency relief in Calvary Chapel v. Sisolak resulting in Nevada imposing tighter restrictions on churches. Houses of worship in the Silver State were left to operate at an occupancy of no more than 50 people, while casinos and other businesses were allowed to reopen and resume their operations at 50% capacity.
Befitting of the state’s nickname, people of faith in Nevada were able to find a silver lining…even as Governor Sisolak’s order essentially tried to keep them from holding in-person services in their own church buildings.
Recently, a group of Christians called Evangelicals for Trump held a praise and worship event in a Las Vegas casino while maintaining and practicing social distancing rules. Ralph Reed, Chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition attended the gathering and posted a video to his Twitter:
First Liberty is on the front lines of this crucial fight, keeping an eye on every government order—from the local level all the way to Capitol Hill.
Will you go All In with us to ensure that our rights to religious freedom are not compromised?
Worshiping at Walmart
In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf did not categorize churches as essential services, and although his emergency order never called for the closure of churches, his policy stated that “individuals should not gather in religious buildings or homes for services or celebrations until the stay-at-home order is lifted.”
To bypass the governor’s order, members of a Christian church recently congregated inside a Walmart—considered by the state’s guidance as an “essential” business—to lift their voices in song and worship. A video of the was posted to Twitter and quickly made headlines, with thousands of people of sharing the church’s innovative “Walmart Worship” gathering:
America’s West Coast: From Riots to Revivals
On the Pacific Coast, California worship leader Sean Feucht continues to host outdoor worship gatherings not just in the Golden State, but is also making his way to the front lines in cities most affected by recent rioting and unrest.
In Oregon, where Governor Kate Brown’s directive caps religious gatherings (whether indoors or outdoors) to no more than 50 attendees, Feucht held a “Riots to Revival” event with thousands of people worshiping in song together and ending with baptisms. The gathering took place a few blocks away from the federal courthouse in Portland, just hours before a riot was declared across town and a separate crowd lit fire to the city police union headquarters.
Feucht also recently held a worship gathering in Seattle. Under Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s restrictions for religious services, outdoor gatherings are restricted to 100 people. Despite facing staunch opposition from protesters (who broke the band’s drum kit and other gear), Feucht noted:
“SEATTLE NEVER STOPPED SINGING!!! THE CHURCH REFUSED TO BE INTIMIDATED AND GOD KEPT POURING OUT!”
From the very start of this pandemic, First Liberty has been on the front lines, reclaiming and defending the right of places of worship to continue living out their faith, while also showing love for their neighbors through compliance with public health measures.
But even before the start of this unprecedented crisis, we understood that houses of worship and religious organizations have been essential to the flourishing of our country.
With your support, First Liberty will always defend your right to live out your faith. And in a volatile time where enemies of religious liberty are using these circumstances as an excuse to attack and undermine this sacred freedom, we are counting on YOUR support now more than ever as we go All In to fight back.
Will you go All In with us…right now?