Victory: Republican Governor Signs Bill Declaring Churches ‘Will Never Close Again'
'Bill makes it clear that officials cannot use a public crisis to discriminate'
New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill declaring Churches and other houses of worship as essential services and will never close again.
HB 542 bill will allow "religious organizations to operate to the same degree as essential businesses during a state of emergency," The Associated Press reported.
The legislation states:
“Nothing in this section shall prohibit the state government from requiring religious organizations to comply with neutral health, safety, or occupancy requirements issued by the state or federal government that are applicable to all organizations and businesses that provide essential services.”
This is means churches will get equal protection under the law, under the requirement of the U.S. Constitution.
The religious liberty legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom praised the new law.
ADF attorney Greg Chafuen said in a statement:
“Houses of worship and religious organizations provide soul-sustaining operations that are essential to our society and protected by the First Amendment."
"While public officials have the authority and responsibility to protect public health and safety, the First Amendment prohibits the government from treating houses of worship and religious organizations worse than shopping centers, restaurants, or gyms."
Never in the history of this state has the government told churches how to worship. It’s a tremendous violation of our first amendment rights. We are taking a stand for the church, our religious freedom and the Constitution. We are contending for the freedom to continue to meet. pic.twitter.com/GWhejou7gR— Ché Ahn (@che_ahn) July 20, 2020
“This bill makes it clear that officials cannot use a public crisis to discriminate against religious operations without violating the Constitution,” he added.
New Hampshire, the "live free or die" state with a history of standing for liberty, has now set the bar for other states to follow.
The subject of COVID church shutdowns in California was noted by The U.S. Supreme Court.
Harvest Rock Church senior pastor Ché Ahn ignored Gov. Gavin Newsom's order to shut down over 90 percent of indoor worship last year.
The Pasadena-based church sued both Newsom and the state for violating the congregation’s First Amendment rights.
“As a pastor, I believe we have been essential for 2,000 years,” Ahn told KCBS-TV.
“No one’s above the Constitution, no one’s above the law,” he said.
The court ruled 6-3 in Harvest Rock’s favor, leaving a 25 percent attendance limit and ban on singing in place.
The court said, in a 5-4 ruling:
“California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts, and indoor restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time.”
In May, Newsom agreed with Harvest Rock Church to Barr the state from placing restrictions on worship services.
“According to the permanent injunction, churches and places of worship may never again have discriminatory restrictions placed on them that are not equally applied to a long list of ‘critical infrastructure’ or ‘essential services’ as outlined in several Supreme Court precedents cited in the settlement,” CBN News reported.