New Jersey has been taking second place for the number of people who have contracted the coronavirus and the number of them who have died as a result of the pandemic. Governor Phil Murphy included religious organizations in an effort to control the virus. He said The Bill of Rights was not on his mind when he issued his order.
According to The New York Times coronavirus tracker, New Jersey had 71,030 people diagnosed with the disease and 3,518 deaths.
The Fox host Tucker Carlson asked the governor about the 15 men who went to a rabbi’s funeral at Lakewood synagogue. They were arrested earlier this month. Carlson asked:
‘The Bill of Rights, as you well know, protects Americans’ rights — enshrines their right to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together to assemble peacefully. By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order? How do you have the power to do that?’
‘That’s above my pay grade, Tucker. I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this … we looked at all the data and the science and it says people have to stay away from each other. That is the best thing we can do to break the back of the curve of this virus, that leads to lower hospitalization and ultimately fatalities.’
Carson asked the governor whether he could legally issue rules against religious meetings:
‘Since you are an elected official, a leader in the government, an executive, how do you have the authority to order something that so clearly contravenes the Bill of Rights of the United States – the U.S. Constitution – where do you get the authority to do that?’
Murphy answered that he had discussed the matter with his state’s religious leaders:
‘Well, here’s the thing. We know we need to stay away from each other, number one. Number two, we do have broad authority within the state. And number three, we would never do that without coordinating, discussing, and hashing it out with the variety of the leaders of the faiths of New Jersey. We have to find a different way to worship.’
Carlson shot back:
‘Government’s not allowed to tell people how to worship.’
President and CEO of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, an advocacy group, Rachel Laser wrote in a statement:
‘The Constitution not only permits it, but demands it. Such restrictions do not violate religious freedom; they ensure religious freedom is not misused in ways that risk people’s lives.’
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) released an executive order on March 31, including religious worship as an essential service:
‘If religious services cannot be conducted from home or through remote services, they should be conducted consistent with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC by practicing good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation, and by implementing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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