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DC Mayor Muriel BowserPool / Getty

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C. walked back some of the city’s extreme restrictions on churches Wednesday, following legal action by the Archdiocese of Washington. 

The Archdiocese of Washington sued D.C. last week over a hard cap of 50 people for church services, which the mayor imposed the day before Thanksgiving. She repealed the limit in a new order that entered into effect Thursday morning, authorizing up to 250 churchgoers at a time. 

“In order to resolve litigation, this Order repeals the numeric cap of fifty (50) persons on gatherings at houses of worship and allows physically large facilities to accommodate more worshippers based on their overall capacity, up to a maximum of two hundred fifty (250) persons,” the order states. 

The lawsuit submitted on behalf of the archdiocese by Becket Law (formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) had argued that the policy discriminated against Catholics and targeted “religious worship as a disfavored activity.” The suit notes there being “no hard cap on the number of people who can dine indoors in restaurants,” for example.

Under the previous restrictions, D.C.’s Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception, the largest religious edifice in North America, could only reach about 2 percent of its roughly 3,000-person capacity. The Becket Fund noted that “filling it with exercise machines instead of pews would allow more than 600 people to attend.” 

Mayor Bowser’s rule shift follows Supreme Court decisions in November that established a judicial precedent against disproportionate worship bans. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court unanimously sided with a Nevada church, overturning numerical caps for church services that the state’s Democratic governor had implemented. Similar rulings have been handed down in Colorado and California this month.

Even as D.C. loosened attendance restrictions, however, the city government reaffirmed several other dictates saddling local Christian communities. Wednesday’s order upholds the requirement of a “reservation system or some means of ensuring that there will not be crowding inside or outside the facility.” 

Churches additionally “must cooperate in contact tracing if contacted by” the D.C. health department, D.C. contact tracers, or contact tracers or officials from any other health department, according to the order. Further demands cited as part of a “non exclusive” list include “mandatory masking” and “wellness checks.”

Moreover, the modest, newly-regained religious freedoms in D.C. only pertain to Masses or “sacramental services.”

“All other activities such as religious education classes, youth events, support groups,” “must follow gathering size limitations” of 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, the mayor’s order emphasizes. Weddings and funerals will face the same restrictions, depending on whether or not they meet the city’s definition of “core religious services.”

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Mainstream media sources are promoting offensive suggestions by some doctors that people who refuse a vaccine for COVID-19 should be "punished" by the government and by business - effectively coercing them into taking the vaccine.

  • One group of doctors writing in 'USA Today' suggested that the government impose special taxes (i.e., fines) on people who refuse the vaccination and that business simply refuse to serve them. [see story below]
  • Another doctor writing in an online publication called 'The Conversation' shamelessly suggested that people who refuse a vaccine should be given a psychoactive drug to induce compliance. [see story below]

But, these suggestions are plain political posturing, and have nothing to do with science or with the recent trends of the disease.

And, in case they haven't noticed, we live in a democracy not a medical dictatorship!

Please SIGN this urgent petition which asks policy-makers and business people, at all levels, to pledge to respect the rights of those who, in good conscience, decide not to vaccinate themselves or their children.

People should not have to live in fear of governmental or corporate retribution for refusing a vaccine which is being rushed to market by Big Pharma and their fellow-travelers in NGOs, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

It would be intolerable and immoral for the government or business to coerce someone, and their family, to take a COVID vaccine against their will to avoid a fine, or just so they can do their weekly grocery shopping.

Medical freedom must be respected in principle and also in practice.

So, it is now time that our policy-makers listen to all voices involved in this vital conversation, and start to represent those who will not tolerate being punished for refusing a vaccine.

Simply put, legislatures must begin to act as legislatures again.

Questions must be asked. Hearings and investigations must be held. And, the legislatures of each state and country must return to the business of representing the people who voted for them, assuming their rightful place as the originator of legislation.

We can no longer accept the dictates of executive branches without question, especially now that, statistically speaking, the initial brunt of the COVID crisis has passed.

Neither can we accept the dictates of doctors who seem detached from reality and from science, and who only seem to be attached to the idea of promoting ideas which contribute to the agrandizement of power and control of political interests, and wealth of those who stand to make a lot of money from the sale of a COVID vaccine.

Please SIGN this urgent petition which asks government and business leaders to pledge to respect the rights of those who refuse a COVID vaccine, and not seek to punish them for doing so.


'Doctors lay out plan to ‘punish’ people who refuse coronavirus vaccine: ‘There is no alternative’' -

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The order also slams the archdiocese for “insist[ing] on a constitutional right to hold indoor worship services,” which “flies in the face of all scientific and medical advice and will doubtlessly put parishioners in harm’s way.” 

In fact, authorities have linked harsh COVID-19 measures to an unprecedented number of D.C.-area overdose deaths that increasingly rivals mortality from the virus itself. Faced with the highest spike in drug fatalities in the district’s history, Mayor Bowser signed off on a permanent expansion of alcohol sales hours in August, after raising taxes on alcohol to offset lockdown costs.

Catholic Masses, which a recent survey suggests help provide substantial mental health benefits during the COVID-19 crisis, have yet to be tied to any confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Becket. 

In a public statement released yesterday, the Archdiocese of Washington, which is led by liberal Cardinal Wilton Gregory, reported being “grateful” for the new order, while leaving the door open to continued litigation. 


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