‘Expect action’: Trump’s Justice Department to review crackdowns on religious services
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― A representative of the U.S. Department of Justice has promised “action” regarding the violations of Americans’ freedom of religion that took place this week.
“During this sacred week for many Americans, AG Barr is monitoring govt regulation of religious services. While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious orgs. Expect action from DOJ next week!” Kerri Kupec tweeted on April 12.
During this sacred week for many Americans, AG Barr is monitoring govt regulation of religious services. While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious orgs. Expect action from DOJ next week!— KerriKupecDOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) April 12, 2020
Kupec has been the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Department of Justice since December 2018.
Kupec’s tweet follows legal threats against practicing Christians from county and state officials who have barred them from attending church services. In late March, Virginia’s Democrat Governor Ralph Northam banned assemblies of more than ten people, even at church services. Kentucky’s Democrat Governor Andy Beashear threatened to have license plates of Christians attending church services recorded and sent to health authorities, who would then order the Christians into quarantine.
Over Holy Week, Christians were fined even for attending “drive-in” services in church parking lots, in which families remained in their own cars, apart from other households, listening to the service via radio. Police in Greenville, Mississippi fined Christians attending a Baptist worship service in their cars $500 last Wednesday.
Many Twitter users responded enthusiastically to Kupec’s post, highlighting that whereas Christians are banned from going to church, people are permitted to frequent certain businesses.
One reader pointed out that whereas people are not allowed to congregate in churches, they are allowed to crowd into Walmart “where thousands touch everything on a constant basis.” This led another reader to suggest that church services could be held in “a Walmart parking lot.”
“Walmart is very busy; 500 in the store at a time,” observed a Christian named Robert. To a suggestion that people in churches are packed “shoulder to shoulder,” Catholic “Teusch Chick” stated, “It’s real easy to get space between people in a pew. This isn’t a complicated concept.”
Another user worried that civil authorities are taking advantage of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic to increase their power.
“Our rights as Americans must be protected from the people taking advantage of this situation for their own power grab, i.e. Democrat politicians,” wrote Renee Williams of North Carolina.
In the U.S., freedom of religion is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
After Bill Gates proposed “digital certificates” proving a person has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he was “very concerned about the slippery slope in terms of continuing encroachments on personal liberty.”
However, Barr’s DOJ has also “quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the novel coronavirus spreads throughout the United States,” Politico reported March 21. The DOJ’s request “raised eyebrows because of its potential implications for habeas corpus — the constitutional right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release.” It also sought to “change the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in some cases to expand the use of videoconference hearings and to let some of those hearings happen without defendants’ consent, according to the draft legislative text.”