No on Prop 3: Safety measures should apply to churches, too

No on Prop 3: Safety measures should apply to churches, too

COVID-19 struck with ruthless indifference. It sickened concertgoers. Diners. Prisoners. Tourists aboard cruise ships. Workers at meat-packing plants. Nursing home residents. Worshippers at church services. Why should one of those groups be exempt from our state’s public health response? Proposition 3 , a state constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot, invokes religious freedom as a shield against government intrusion. But its true meaning is to exempt religious organizations from any of the public safety measures that apply to the rest of the community. No occupancy limits in a church or temple when a highly contagious disease is circulating. No ability to require clergy, in a public health emergency, to temporarily move their services online. Prop 3 prohibits any government entity from issuing any rule that “prohibits or limits religious services.” No exceptions. We deeply cherish the right of all Texans to practice the faith that sustains them, especially in times of crisis, when worshippers lean on each other for support. But Prop 3 goes too far. It treats churches as separate from society, when in reality they are woven into the fabric of the communities they serve — and entangled by the same public health threats as their neighbors. Prop 3 gives religious communities a pass instead of expecting them to do their part to keep people safe. Texans of good conscience should reject Prop 3. Prop 3 and a similar law the Legislature passed this spring came in response to the patchwork of stay-at-home orders that cities […]

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