Just how “essential” are churches? The Old Line State has determined “not very,” apparently.
Maryland State Police arrived at Evangel Cathedral Church on Sunday to enforce a “stay-at-home” order declared by Gov. Larry Hogan.
Pastor Erik Meares was holding a service with about 50 people in attendance, which violated Hogan’s order banning gatherings of 10 or more people. The order also mandates the closure of businesses not deemed “essential.”
Meares’ service was interrupted by several state troopers, who informed the church-goers they were in violation of Hogan’s order, according to WTTG.
Meares fought back, arguing that they had a constitutional right — under the First Amendment — to worship.
Eventually, the state troopers left, and Meares elected to finish the service.
The pastor posted a video of the encounter, and the rest of the service, to his Facebook page.
The state troopers can be seen disrupting the service at around the eight-minute mark:
According to a statement from Hogan’s office, “No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes.”
While some “essential” businesses are allowed to remain open, churches are not.
Violating Hogan’s order could result in up to one year of imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine, though no one was arrested or charged in the Evangel Cathedral incident, WTTG reported.
Similar steps have been taken by Florida officials.
Threats of this nature are also being levied against religious leaders in New York City by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“If you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services, after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice, but to shut down those services,” de Blasio said at a news conference Friday.
While the NYC mayor threatens religious leaders, he is also setting several violent criminals free.
De Blasio’s move to release sex offenders and domestic abusers from jail due to COVID-19 has been heavily criticized by area prosecutors, according to a letter from district attorneys obtained by Fox News.
Other Democrats, including those on the House Judiciary Committee, seem to be in favor of letting prisoners go free:
JUST IN: After Rising Numbers of Federal Prisoners Test Positive for #COVID19 & First COVID-19 related Death Reported in Federal Prison, @RepJerryNadler & @RepKarenBass Renew Call for DOJ to Take Actionhttps://t.co/YzYAIJpg26
— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudiciary) March 30, 2020
The Western Journal reached out to both Meares and Evangel Cathedral Church for comment. Neither responded in time for publication.
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