FFRF: Supreme Court’s COVID church action bodes big trouble ahead

Social Distancing

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is raising the alarm over the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest attempt to give churches special privileges during the COVID pandemic.

The court took an unusual step a week ago and sided with a California church challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pandemic-related restrictions on indoor worship services. In a two-sentence unsigned order, the court vacated a lower court decision upholding the restrictions. The move is concerning, especially considering SCOTUS’ midnight opinion on the eve of Thanksgiving in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, in which the court enjoined New York’s governor from enforcing targeted restrictions on church attendance in areas experiencing COVID spikes.

Without explicitly stating it, the Supreme Court once again seems to be suggesting that states can’t regulate the size of religious gatherings if those states allow essential services like grocery stores to remain open.

“This is religious liberty run amok,” comments FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “The framers of our secular Constitution wanted a country guided by science and reason. They never would have believed that churches someday would be granted a green light to risk infecting thousands of citizens with a lethal virus. This has got to stop.”

The action by our highest court is not only reckless and anti-science, but also signals that President Trump’s changes to that court will be far-reaching, endangering not just the health of the country but the core tenet of the First Amendment separating governmental policy from religion.


The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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