Across the country, we are seeing a wave of bills to create special rights for churches to ignore public health restrictions and hold in-person gatherings.
In Missouri, lawmakers are considering SB 12, which prevents religious organizations from being subject to any public health restrictions during emergencies if they conflict with their religious beliefs. This sweeping exemption would give churches free rein to ignore critical rules that apply to every other business and organization.
Public health experts believe that church gatherings may be especially likely to spread COVID-19, and there is ample evidence to support this conclusion. And yet, Missouri lawmakers are considering giving churches the right to meet even if similar secular organizations are closed.
This doesn’t merely affect church congregations and religious schools. These in-person gatherings can be a vector to spread COVID-19 throughout a community.