DOJ warns California that re-opening could 'discriminate' against religious groups


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  texan1211  •  3 months ago  •  23 comments

By:   Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY (MSN)

DOJ warns California that re-opening could 'discriminate' against religious groups
The Justice Department warned California that re-opening could discriminate against religious freedom as the state emerges from virus its shutdown.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department on Tuesday put California Gov. Gavin Newsom on notice, claiming that his plan for the state's staggered re-opening from the threat posed by the coronavirus discriminates against religious groups and a return to in-person worship services.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, chief of the department's Civil Rights Division, warned the governor that places of worship were being forced to take a back seat to a gradual resumption of operations at schools, restaurants, offices and shopping malls.

Dreiband, in a letter to the governor, cast the policy as "differential treatment" that unfairly singled out religious worship for restrictions that the state would not impose on other activities.

"The Department of Justice does not seek to dictate how states such as California determine what degree of activity and personal interaction should be allowed to protect the safety of their citizens," the letter states. "However, we are charged with upholding the Constitution and federal statutory protections for civil rights. Whichever level of restrictions you adopt, these civil rights protections mandate equal treatment of persons and activities of a secular and religious nature."

California authorities did not immediately respond to Justice's action.

But the warning to California marks an expansion of Justice's intervention in states where religious services have been restricted by executive orders aimed at controlling the virus' spread.

Earlier this month, Justice sided with a Virginia church in its challenge to a state shutdown order limiting the size of religious gatherings, claiming it violated constitutional guarantees of free expression.

Federal authorities moved in the Virginia case after a pastor was cited by local police for hosting a service attended by 16 people - six more than allowed for such in-person gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, the government joined the side of a Mississippi church after congregants were issued citations for attending a drive-in service.

Attorney General William Barr signaled early in the health emergency that Justice would be scrutinizing state policies that could be interpreted as overly restrictive.

"Many policies that would be unthinkable in regular times have become commonplace in recent weeks, and we do not want to unduly interfere with the important efforts of state and local officials to protect the public," Barr wrote in a memo to federal prosecutors. "But the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis. We must therefore be vigilant to ensure its protections are preserved, at the same time that the public is protected."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DOJ warns California that re-opening could 'discriminate' against religious groups


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1  seeder  Texan1211    3 months ago

Anyone find it a little strange that one of the most liberal states in the Union would need a warning from Justice?

1.1  MAGA  replied to  Texan1211 @1    3 months ago

Thanks for seeding this.  In this state like many, liberal equals bigoted against religious believers so I’m grateful as a California resident for what the justice department is doing. 

1.1.1  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  MAGA @1.1    3 months ago

I figure the word 'religious" in the title would be a dog whistle for a couple of folks.

1.1.2  MAGA  replied to  Texan1211 @1.1.1    3 months ago


Vic Eldred
1.3  Vic Eldred  replied to  Texan1211 @1    3 months ago

Liberal states don't seem to know that "Civil Rights" also apply to religion!

1.3.1  MUVA  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.3    3 months ago

I think sometimes they think civil rights only apply to democrats.

1.3.2  MAGA  replied to  MUVA @1.3.1    3 months ago

That’s a fact!

2  Thomas    3 months ago

I wonder why the DOJ decided to warn them specifically and about religion, specifically?  Link

Stage 3 will be when higher-risk businesses will be able to reopen — again, with modifications. This includes nail and hair salons, gyms, movie theaters and sports without live audiences, as well as in-person religious services.
user image
2.1    replied to  Thomas @2    3 months ago
I wonder why the DOJ decided to warn them specifically and about religion, specifically?

Freedom of Religion is a constitutionally protected right. States can not infringe upon it.

2.2  squiggy  replied to  Thomas @2    3 months ago
This includes nail and hair salons, gyms, movie theaters and sports without live audiences, as well as in-person religious services.

Ah, the Nail Salon Amendment.

3  Tacos!    3 months ago

The focus needs to be on the behavior and risk of infection, not the purpose of the activity itself. So if people meet to worship and separate a little, wear masks, refrain from touching surfaces, wash their hands, and so on, I would think they should be able to go to church if they want to. Many won't want to go, of course, even if the state okays it. Especially older worshipers.

Paula Bartholomew
3.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Tacos! @3    3 months ago

A friend of mine who lives in a small town went to church last Sunday.  They have a nice little band and the members of it out numbered those who showed up to worship.

4  MAGA    3 months ago

....Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice said Newsom’s policies effectively act as a sort of differential treatment that are unfairly singling out religious worshipers with restrictions that are not being imposed on other activities.

AP20139751909711.jpg 315w, 655w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" >

Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new criteria related to coronavirus hospitalizations and testing that could allow counties to open faster than the state, during a news conference at Mustards Grill in Napa, Calif., Monday May 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool)

Dreiband said while the Department of Justice does not seek to control how California determines what should and should not be able to reopen, the department wants to make sure the state’s restrictions and guidelines uphold the Constitution and federal protections for civil rights.

This comes as religious leaders across the state have heightened calls for the governor to allow them to reopen, while many others have already suggested they would reopen on their own time.

“Governor Newsom open the doors. It’s way past time. We have what is needed in our community with the rise of the new pandemic of emotional, spiritual, the dire needs. We have the answer. So, Governor, open the doors.”

— Rev. Larry Ihrig, founder – Celebration Church

At this time, Newsom’s office has not yet responded to the letter.

5  evilgenius    3 months ago

Posted on the CDC website 2 days ago...

Among 92 attendees at a rural Arkansas church during March 6–11, 35 (38%) developed laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, and three persons died. Highest attack rates were in persons aged 19–64 years (59%) and ≥65 years (50%). An additional 26 cases linked to the church occurred in the community, including one death.

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