General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Isn't there something in the Constitution about a separation between Church and State?

Asked by elbanditoroso (33226points) May 22nd, 2020

How can Trump demand that churches reopen?


Is the next step to require that people go to church?

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64 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

It’s quite a leap from re-opening churches to it being mandatory.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@KNOWITALL it’s quite a leap for a president to demand that churches be open

seawulf575's avatar

@elbanditoroso is it any different than demanding that they be closed and that people can’t meet to pray?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes, of course, @KNOWITALL – the federal government has no say.

Opening and closing a facility for health reasons is a state and/or local function.

seawulf575's avatar

@elbanditoroso Don’t state and local officials have to follow the US Constitution too? I direct you to the First Amendment: “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.”. Our friend @gorillapaws references us to the Establishment Clause which says the government can’t establish a national religion or sect. But that isn’t really what is being done by saying churches need to be reopened. I would suggest the exact opposite is true. The call to reopen is actually addressing an potentially unconstitutional action by governors that are demanding that churches remain closed. There is becoming less and less support for that decision and it is starting to look like they are attempting to interfere with people’s rights to worship as they wish.

Irukandji's avatar

@seawulf575 ” is it any different than demanding that they be closed and that people can’t meet to pray?”

No, it’s not. But neither the federal government nor any state government has ordered churches to be shut. Some municipalities have, and some are even fining people for attending services. But those municipal orders and the fines handed out for violating them are unconstitutional.

Some of the state and federal guidelines recommend that churches stay closed as part of the broader recommendation against holding large gatherings, but none of them have ordered or demanded that churches close. Congress also hasn’t passed any laws preventing people from assembling. Again, recommendations are not the same thing as laws or orders.

Demosthenes's avatar

I don’t see demanding churches be opened as being any different than demanding stores or restaurants be opened or whatever. Only there is a stronger argument for freedom of religious practice than freedom of eating at a restaurant. That said, I don’t buy that there is an anti-religious agenda behind restrictions on churches being open if they’re being treated no differently than other establishments where people gather. You’d have to demonstrate that restrictions on churches are unfairly strict compared to restrictions on other businesses and institutions.

seawulf575's avatar

@Irukandji I don’t know about that. In fact, I think you are entirely wrong. I know that many states HAVE mandated closure of churches. For example, here is a list of PA closures. Religious organizations are specifically mentioned. Other states have mandated this as well. And I know in my state, they are reopening in a 5 step phase-in plan. And churches are deemed to be so unessential they are on the last step. So that means the state is determining how important religion is to the people. But here’s the problem with your statement: even if it was only municipalities, that is still a potential violation of the Constitution and needs to be looked at just the same as questioning whether President Trump should ask for churches to be reopened.

josie's avatar

Re anti establishment principles

The issue is, how can Governors close a church? That is as egregious a violation of The Bill of Rights as would be government censorship.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

They aren’t closing a church, the are say in general ALL groups including churches there should not a large gathering !!! NASCAR is racing with no one in the stands.

gorillapaws's avatar

Constitutional civil liberties aren’t limitless. You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater despite having the freedom of speech. You can’t sacrifice virgin children, even though you have a right to believe in a volcano-god who demands you toss them into it. You can’t infect your neighbors with a virus despite having the right to peaceably assemble. Remember that the purpose of the government according to the Constitution is to:

” domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”

seawulf575's avatar

@gorillapaws “You can’t infect your neighbors with a virus despite having the right to peaceably assemble” Let me ask…if you are gathering at the church, aren’t all the people there of their own free will with full knowledge of the risks? But there is another problem with your analogies. Yelling fire…a purposeful action. Sacrificing children….a purposeful action. Infecting your neighbors…an unintended action…possibly an unknown action. So while you are making good points on what is not allowed, you are picking apples and comparing them to oranges. Now, if I knew I was Covid-19 positive and purposely went to church and coughed on as many people as I could, you might have a similar situation to your other examples.
Also, you pull an interesting part out of the preamble to cite. Let’s dissect it a bit, shall we? insure domestic tranquility…isn’t that what going to church is all about? So prohibiting church gatherings is actually working against that. Promote the general welfare…are we talking about spiritual and emotional welfare as well as physical? Because, again, churches are great ways to boost your spiritual and emotional welfare. Not to mention they do a lot of charity work in their communities so they also help with physical needs. So prohibiting church gatherings also works against that. “Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”…isn’t one of the blessings of liberty our right to exercise our freedom of religion? To pray to the God we wish, in the way we wish? So prohibiting church gatherings most definitely goes against that as well.
Did you realize how wrong your citation was for your argument? I think the problem is that you are looking at us being subservient to our government when, in fact, the government is supposed to work for us, not over us. Abraham Lincoln summed it up best in his Gettysburg Address:“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth*.”

Of the people, by the people, for the people. Notice it does not say Over the people.

seawulf575's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I’m guessing you don’t go to church and have zero clue as to what it is all about. But let me fill you in. Many religions believe there is power in gathering together…power to help each other and others, to reach out to God with prayers and worship, to discuss God’s word and try to learn from it. And that goes for most religions. That is part of the “exercising religion” mentioned in the 1st Amendment. So you can try slanting it however you like, but it is still a very slippery slope.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I was taught 60 some odd years ago, the church is in your heart ! That was by a Presbyterian minister.

The mega churches are losing revenue and crying about it. They are a retail business !

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’m currently chaplain in an organization in my town and fill in as needed in another. I’ve been a chaplain in several organizations starting when I was 10.

Are you a chaplain @seawulf575 ? ? ?

KNOWITALL's avatar

I wonder if the Amish and other seperatists were excluded from Covid regs in their communities? Anyone know?

JLeslie's avatar

As far as I know he can’t demand churches to open. The people who run the church decide that, just like business owners can’t be forced to open or do business.

Trump is just doing his dog whistle bullshit. He is masterful at manipulation.

My governor never closed churches, but local municipalities and clergy themselves closed churches and my governor supported their decisions. My governor got away with being loved by the evangelicals for refusing to close churches at the state level and they ignored that he supported closing them. Masterful. I actually am ok with his decision, just annoyed with how it all plays out politically. Trump is doing the same basic thing.

Edit: @KNOWITALL I read about a month ago the Amish in Pennsylvania I think had been taking some precautions and the the non-Amish friends and probably some city officials made sure the Amish were being given recommendations and information about COVID19. If I remember they did cancel school, and were doing some distancing. The article I read had concern for the Amish possibly still going to church and holding funerals where a lot of people are together, but I have no idea if the Amish did cancel church services or if they limited how many people could attend weddings or funerals. I have no idea if any Amish have had C19, if the authorities have stopped the Amish from gathering, it might vary by state.

seawulf575's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Nope, not a chaplain here. But I have to wonder…what are your credentials? Gone to a seminary? Mail order degree? Because I’ll tell you, with your presentations on these pages you are about as far from anything religious that I’ve seen. You present hatred, are judgemental, you run down religion….basically you are about the furthest thing from any religious person I could think of. I certainly wouldn’t come to you for spiritual guidance. So just what, exactly, are your credentials to be a chaplain? And what are your duties?

LostInParadise's avatar

@seawulf575 , It is a matter of risk versus benefit. It is not certain if a given person has the virus or will get infected by it, but if you put together a large group, the probability that some will become infected increases significantly, and if you have a lot of groups it is a virtual certainty that people will become infected. Is the benefit of going to church worth the deaths that will be caused? Maybe this will put thing in perspective.

seawulf575's avatar

@LostInParadise Yep, that puts it in perspective! It was from March 27 which means the pastor was probably infected around the beginning of March. The article says he died on the previous Monday, that he went to the ER on the previous Friday (that would be the 20th). He had been coughing for several days before that which means he was probably infected around the 13th. Remember the country back then? Mayor DeBlasio on March 10 was telling New Yorkers to continue on with their lives as usual…go to dinner at restaurants, go to movies, attend a show, and attend an upcoming parade. So you are probably talking about a time when a large congregation was gathering and hugging each other, gathering in small knots of people to talk, possibly having coffee and donuts together…basically taking no precautions at all. Is that the same country we have now? Do you really see that happening?
And all of this does nothing towards addressing the incongruity of thinking it is okay for a government official demanding that churches be closed, but then saying separation of church and state somehow keeps them from opening them again. Does that put it into perspective for you?

LostInParadise's avatar

Separation of church and state says that churches should be open, but health concerns say otherwise. It is a question of risk versus benefit. The same holds for opening businesses and people being allowed to go back to work. Sometimes freedoms must be sacrificed in the interest of health and safety. What percent risk of getting the virus would you be willing to accept in order to go to church? 1%? 10%? 25%?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@seawulf575 You once again you show how naive you are, I don’t need a piece of paper.

“You present hatred, are judgemental, you run down religion….basically you are about the furthest thing from any religious person.”
Not so, your perception of religion in is fundamentalist and puritanical !! With hatred for another, you can’t understand.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@LostInParadise But many believe 100% their lives are God’s to do with as He chooses. That’s why religious services are different, to me. If those protestors freedom of speech and peaceful assembly is protected, so must freedom to religion.

@seawulf I’m speechless myself.

Demosthenes's avatar

It’s always going to be difficult to argue about the “essentialness” of houses of worship because to some, it is absolutely essential, and to others, it means nothing in their lives. In a way, you can’t even compare it with hospitals and grocery stores. They’re apples and oranges. But I think that it if churches can follow the same social distancing guidelines that other businesses and institutions must follow, I don’t see why they should be treated differently.

Jaxk's avatar

None of this is as clear cut as the ‘stay at homers’ would have us believe. Suicides, drug over doses, domestic violence, etc. are escalating at an alarming rate. The issue is whether houses of worship are an essential service. Many government officials are telling us they are not. while many religious leaders are telling us they are. I’ll go with the constitution and let everyone make their own decision. Subscribe to the rules for other businesses (masks, social distancing etc.) but ‘let my people go’.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Assume for a moment that churches and synagogues are small businesses, which, to a degree, is true. Some are basically non-prophet organizations.

Does the small business have the option to not open up if they don’t feel safe? Or course they do. (Many restaurants near me are doing patio seating or pickup, no inside eating. Their choice.)

Can Trump tell a small business how to run itself? Of course not. But the County Health Department can tell a restaurant to remain closed for any number of reasons. That’s their authority.

A slight variation with houses of worship. The county Health departments have all sorts of authority to deal with health and safety issues. Trump doesn’t.

LostInParadise's avatar

How essential are church services? Does not going to church make you any less Christian? Can’t church services be performed over the Internet? This is not a permanent state of affairs. I don’t see why people can’t put off going to church until this is over.

seawulf575's avatar

@Tropical_Willie soooo…you’ve got nothing. Got it. Except a title…maybe. And really, you have no religious understanding at all. So tell me…what “organization” would select you to be a chaplain?

seawulf575's avatar

@Jaxk Ssshhh….we aren’t supposed to talk about all the unintended negatives of the economic shutdown. That isn’t part of the narrative they want us to address.

seawulf575's avatar

@elbanditoroso just so we get to the actual heart of the matter, this really is just about Orange Man Bad, right? Because so far you have avoided my original question to you about whether or not shutting down churches is a violation of separation of church and state. And now you want to try saying a church is like a small business. First off, just we are clear…they are all non-prophet since there are no prophets these days…at least none I know of. And most are non-profit as well. But back to the idea of them being a small business. Okay, let’s assume that. So why would they be considered non-essential? Because some bureaucrat decided that? What is the definition of essential in this pandemic? And since many other businesses are being allowed to reopen, why is it that churches are still being restricted in many places?
Since you really have no answers for any of those questions (since there are none other than whim), your entire question really boils down to Hate Trump. Too bad this thread didn’t really pan out that way…

LostInParadise's avatar

@seawulf575 , In what way are churches essential services? What horrible things will happen if people put off going to church until this is over? Will they stop being Christians? Will they all be damned? Can’t they do services over the Internet?

seawulf575's avatar

@LostInParadise In what way are Liquor Stores essential services? Abortion Clinics? Landscape services? Pool services? If grocery stores are essential then why do we need restaurants, even for take out? Are all manufacturing companies considered essential? If not, why not? When you start questioning why something shouldn’t be considered essential, you are automatically putting yourself into the position of determining what should and shouldn’t be important to others. I know many people that very much like gathering together for church services. It is part of how they exercise their religious beliefs. And all of your question still avoids the basic question concerning separation of church and state, though it does show you don’t care for churches. But as for the original question of should separation of church and state play a part in keeping the churches closed, I ask the question of why that wasn’t a concern when the government closed them. They didn’t shut down everything, and many places are dragging their feet on opening the churches again. So why are they playing games with people’s rights to exercise their religious beliefs?

gorillapaws's avatar

@seawulf575 ”...aren’t all the people there of their own free will with full knowledge of the risks?”

If they remained in the church until the end of the pandemic, I would agree with you. However their actions affect others.

”...Infecting your neighbors…an unintended action”

It may be unintended, but it’s entirely foreseeable. A drunk driver may not intend to kill that kid but it’s an entirely foreseeable consequence of his actions. We have decided as a country to ban drunk driving because theses unintended consequences are foreseeable and preventable regardless of intentionality.

”...Promote the general welfare…are we talking about spiritual and emotional welfare as well as physical?”

You can’t have spiritual/emotional welfare if you’re dead. Even more importantly it’s not just about YOUR spiritual/emotional welfare, it’s about the general welfare of the American people. That’s why it’s the “GENERAL welfare.”

”…isn’t one of the blessings of liberty our right to exercise our freedom of religion? To pray to the God we wish, in the way we wish? So prohibiting church gatherings most definitely goes against that as well.”

Of course it is. I would vigorously oppose any restrictions on which God people can pray to. There are restrictions on the MEANS of worship though. For example, polygamy and child marriages are banned despite religious cults that want to engage in such practices. I would certainly support church gatherings if they could be held in a manner where all participants were wearing positive pressure personnel suits, or in isolated booths with appropriately filtered ventilation, for example. Currently many houses of worship are hosting virtual services. There are drive-in services being held as well. I don’t think anyone has any objections to these types of worship.

Your analysis is also conveniently omitting the “provide for the common defense” portion of the preamble. This clause can be interpreted in multiple ways but one would be protecting our citizens from biological threats, as well as maintaining the readiness of our armed forces to handle foreign and domestic threats. A pandemic will impact our military’s readiness/capabilities and it certainly constitutes a threat to public safety.

” I think the problem is that you are looking at us being subservient to our government when, in fact, the government is supposed to work for us, not over us.”

I think the bigger problem is that you’re failing to recognize that the government is supposed to protect the society as a whole from the reckless actions of individuals. Either you’re ignorant of how viruses spread/what an exponential growth curve looks like, or your ignoring/not considering that. The reckless and foreseeably dangerous actions of some individuals have the potential to kill thousands. What about the conservative principle of taking personal responsibility for one’s actions? One church/temple/mosque service could end up killing more Americans than 9/11. Any one of us could be responsible for more deaths than the worst serial killers and not even know we were responsible.

@KNOWITALL “But many believe 100% their lives are God’s to do with as He chooses.”

If I believe that God makes it so I can drive drunk without impairment, and he wants me to do so to demonstrate his glory, should I have the freedom of religion to do so? Or does the safety of the public create the need for restrictions on my religious freedoms?

LostInParadise's avatar

@seawulf575 , States have the right to restrict freedom in order to protect health and safety. They can close churches the same way they can tell people to remain locked in. From your lack of response, I am assuming that a person can still be a good Christian without going to church. If going to church is so important then in the short term people can participate in online services.

Churches, unlike the other businesses you named, can have large congregations, making them fertile breeding grounds for the virus. How many churches require masks and practice social distancing? If they did, would they have to restrict the number of people who attend? Would you go to church under those restrictions?

seawulf575's avatar

@LostInParadise From your response you seem to believe it is your right or the right of the state to determine how people should exercise their religious rights. Here, let me help with a few scriptures:

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24–25

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” 1Corinthians 14:26

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” Matthew 12:30

The list goes on. But the bible is full of statements like this that specifically speak about gathering together and praising God with each other. Can you be a good Christian without gathering together? That’s a question. If you belief what Jesus says, the answer is no. But is that really your place to decide? Is it the job of the state?
As for the state having the right to restrict freedoms in order to protect health and safety, I ask you again, why are liquor stores allowed to be open? Isn’t alcoholism unhealthy? How about abortion clinics? Isn’t that an elective surgery? I couldn’t get eye-glasses but a woman can get an abortion? How does that work? And aren’t there hazards associated with any surgeries? Your arguments are great until they fall apart by reality.
Your questions about churches practicing social distancing and requiring masks is sort of moot since they were among the first things the politicians shut down. Based on what? Even Dr. Fauci said masks are useless unless they meet certain criteria. So what was the basis? were the churches even given an option to adapt to specific distancing rules? No. So your questions again, sound good right up until they meet reality. But back to the actual question…the one you have dodged several times now…if having Trump say we need to open churches is a violation of church/state separation, wasn’t the government shutting them down just as much a violation?

seawulf575's avatar

@gorillapaws Again, you are not thinking when you are giving examples. You think if people stayed at church it would be okay. Well, I have to go to work and still get to come home. How is that different? I go to the grocery store and still have to go to work and still get to go home. So what you are saying is patently biased. It doesn’t apply to all cases and singles out churches. Here’s one for you: we’ve all heard about limiting groups to 10 people. Know where that number came from? Neither does anyone else. It is strictly a random number based on nothing. So saying it is wrong is purely whimsical.
You bring up Drunk Drivers and try to compare that to a church goer. Again, intended with unintended. You make the assumption that the church goer knows they are infected and purposely put others at risk. The drunk driver, on the other hand, knows they have been drinking and make a purposeful decision to drive.
You bring up welfare of the American public. I will point out again that the shutdown and isolation has had many, many unintended consequences including a spike in alcoholism, spousal abuse, child abuse, drug addiction, and suicide. How’s that for protecting the welfare of the American public? Think those things are good for their welfare? Of course, when you play ostrich and bury your head in the sand to all those evils, you can try to say things like going to church is bad for public welfare. You know…those evil churches that do a lot of charity and help people deal with personal issues. Yeah…you got no leg to stand on there, buddy.
I purposely omitted the “provide for the common defense”. Are you suggesting Covid-19 is a biological weapon? Are you saying that China purposely tried infecting us? It certainly sounds like that. What do you know that no one else knows? Because unless it was a biological attack, that phrase falls by the wayside.
And I am not missing that the government is supposed to protect the public from certain threats. But I will argue it should not be at the cost of some. Again, see the list of unintended consequences of the government’s actions. You can’t tell me that is considered protecting the public. You are speaking from a position of fear, I am speaking from a position of reality in this.

LostInParadise's avatar

Trump’s statement was an infringement on state’s rights. It is up to individual states to determine public health policy. The most the federal government can do is to issue guidelines.

I repeat, would you be willing to go to church with a mask and practicing social distancing. How effective would the choir be with everyone wearing a mask and standing six feet apart? What about the preacher? You might find it more to your liking to attend an online service (just a suggestion).

JLeslie's avatar

Someone said it above, houses of worship are businesses. That’s the real deal. The churches need their money coming in to stay open and for clergy and staff to get paid.

I don’t really think in terms of essential and non-essential, I’m in line with my governor on that. I think If you can conduct the businesses reasonably safe that transmission won’t have a high chance of exploding then for now those businesses are opening. I think churches that ask people to wear masks, distance, no singing, are relatively safe. Distancing means they might have to have a couple more services than usual if a lot of rolls actually want to come back to church. Certainly, churches can be open for people to pray in, I mean outside of regular services.

LostInParadise's avatar

Would you go to church wearing a mask and sitting six feet apart from everyone and with no choir? Does not seem to be a very good deal. Why not just call the whole show off and wait till this blows over?

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise Do you go to church to hear the priest/minister, pray, or you just want the social hour? People can socialize in small groups on their own.

LostInParadise's avatar

As an atheist I don’t attend religious services.The closest thing that I have done is to attend meditation sessions. I find that the group participation can enhance meditation. Sitting six feet apart would dampen the experience. I guess the equivalence in a religious setting would be in group prayer and singing.

kritiper's avatar

I don’t think the president can demand churches be opened any more than he can demand that I go to church. He can demand that churches can be open if they want to, but that is the extent of it, IMO.
The message (”...a separation of church and state…”) that the government can’t establish a religion is so that there can be no church like Henry the VIII’s church where you HAD to become a part of that church (the church of the state), or face execution.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Let’s take religion out of the equation here, because it has an emotional effect on some people who choose religion as their belief system.

Can any president demand that ANY business be open? (Trump ‘commanded’ that beef and pork slaughterhouses be opened up. That didn’t stop people from getting sick and not coming to work.)

Presidents don’t have that much power. Think about 1952 when Truman tried to nationalize the steel mills to force striking steelworkers to go back to work. Truman lost big time – the Supreme Court told him he didn’t have that authority.

That’s not the same issue, of course, but it shows that presidents can’t just ‘demand’ things and get their way.

Tropical_Willie's avatar


Okay tell me who died and left you in charge of everything in the world with bad mouth to anyone and everyone you don’t agree with.

I bet you bad mouthed your superiors behind their backs !

Omniscient and all important ! ~ ~ ~ ~ All hail Wulfie.

You probably think that you are the smartest you know.

seawulf575's avatar

@LostInParadise You seem really hung up on this idea of social distancing and wearing a mask and are using that as almost a threat. Yeah, I’d still go. We could hold services outdoors, we could only use every third seat. We could do any number of things. And the band all stand 6’ apart anyway and the pastor isn’t near anyone when he is up on stage. You seem to think you need to wear a mask when you aren’t near anyone. Do you really believe that? But STILL you avoid the idea that the government may have violated the church/state separation by ordering churches shut down. You STILL won’t address that. You dodge more than anyone I’ve ever seen. So what about it? If Trump is wrong for wanting the churches open because of a separation of church and state issue, weren’t they wrong for closing them too by that same reasoning? Why won’t you address that?

seawulf575's avatar

@elbanditoroso the question remains the same. Didn’t they demand it be closed? How did they do that? And if they were allowed to do that why can’t they order them open again?

seawulf575's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Let me help you. Here’s the definition of “Chaplain” (From Merriam Webster):

“1: a clergyman in charge of a chapel
2: a clergyman officially attached to a branch of the military, to an institution, or to a family or court
3: a person chosen to conduct religious exercises (as at a meeting of a club or society)
4: a clergyman appointed to assist a bishop (as at a liturgical function)”

You just sat here and declared you are a chaplain of some mysterious organization. Yet you claim to have no credentials for the job. You bad mouth religion at ever chance. You spew hatred in every post. And have refused to name the organization that would name you as chaplain. And when challenged, you make a personal attack. Good job. You have convinced me of your insincerity.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 Does @Tropical_Willie at all owe you personal information? How would you feel if users here judged that your behavior and demeanor were not consistent with a Christian mindset and demand that you prove yourself a Christian?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

3: a person chosen to conduct religious exercises (as at a meeting of a club or society)

And what your SSN??

Irukandji's avatar

@seawulf575 “I know that many states HAVE mandated closure of churches. For example, here is a list of PA closures. Religious organizations are specifically mentioned.”

Yeah, they’re specifically mentioned as being allowed to continue operating. That’s what the big green YES means.

“And I know in my state, they are reopening in a 5 step phase-in plan. And churches are deemed to be so unessential they are on the last step.”

Only four states have a reopening plan that includes five or more phases—Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan—and none of them have mandated that churches be closed. Alaska issued a health alert regarding religious services, but did not prohibit them. The Illinois reopening plan refers to religious services as “essential gatherings” and allows them in Phase 1 (see page 6). Indiana’s Guidance for Places of Worship also refers to religious groups as “essential” and offers only recommendations on how people can stay safe while worshipping together. Michigan never included churches in its stay at home order (and explicitly exempted places of religious worship from penalties that were in place for large gatherings at the time).

“But here’s the problem with your statement: even if it was only municipalities, that is still a potential violation of the Constitution and needs to be looked at”

That’s why I said “those municipal orders and the fines handed out for violating them are unconstitutional.” I’m not saying it’s okay that municipalities are violating the Constitution. In fact, I would have thought that calling those actions unconstitutional made it pretty clear that I think they are not okay.

According to the US Supreme Court (in a decision written by Antonin Scalia), the enforcement of “neutral laws of general applicability” does not violate the First Amendment. This means that churches still have to follow laws and orders that apply to everyone and that do not target religious practice. So if no one can gather in groups larger than ten, then churches still have to abide by that (which is not the same as ordering them to close).

But what some municipalities have done is enforce these orders against churches in ways that they are not enforcing them against others. And that is clearly a violation of the First Amendment.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes He does not owe me anything. But if he is going to throw something out to try showing himself superior, I will ask him for the proof of that claim. I didn’t open this door, I’m just walking through it.

seawulf575's avatar

@Irukandji Yeah, you got me on the PA thing. I ran my eyes crookedly across. But I also see other articles like this in Illinois, and this in Virginia, and this in New York, and this in Massachusetts. I could go on but you get the idea. So either these states are ordering the churches closed or have actively passed laws against church since people are getting fined and/or threatened with arrest for meeting. And if you look, these fines/threats are for violating the governor’s orders. So your statement that no states have mandated closure still remains wrong.
And you are correct about the 5 phase. I saw that a while back and it has since changed. We are a 3 phase plan. And houses of worship can operate in phase 2 with very limited operation.
As for the remaining question, I have pointed out that many of these demands on closure were made as executive orders from governors, not municipalities. So if you extrapolate out your answer, what you are saying is that these states that mandated the closures were unconstitutional in their actions. So if they were unconstitutional, is it unconstitutional for the POTUS to say he wants these bans lifted?

LostInParadise's avatar

@seawulf575 , Let me say this one more time. What Trump said is wrong, not because of separation of government and religion, but because it is a violation of state’s rights. States have the right to take whatever means they feel are necessary to protect health and safety, even if this restricts freedom. The most that the federal government can do is to provide guidelines, which a state may or may not go along with.

I hope you enjoy your socially distanced church service.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@seawulf575 Once again you are psychologically projecting.

You’re the one that keeps trying to show that you are superior !

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Seawulf There are lots of off-shoots and different brands, who knows. Certainly not what we envision, I’m sure.
@Desmosthenes There’s history here, and after years of discussions, yes there’s a certain amount of accountability with many people here.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 It kinda seems like you opened it, though? You made it personal by accusing Willie of knowing nothing about the significance of church or religious services so he countered that by saying he is a chaplain. This wouldn’t have come up if you hadn’t responded to a non-personal comment with a personal accusation.

@KNOWITALL Well, I hope those who demand personal information from others are prepared to give it out themselves.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes Maybe it was my bad, but when you compare a church gathering with a NASCAR race, you don’t give a lot of credence to the idea that you either know or care about church gatherings. I just pointed out how important gathering was to some churches. As for getting personal and asking personal information let me give a quote here: “I’m currently chaplain in an organization in my town and fill in as needed in another. I’ve been a chaplain in several organizations starting when I was 10.

Are you a chaplain @seawulf575 ? ? ?”

I’m sorry, but at that point he has made a claim and challenged me as well. So I just don’t see that asking for his credentials or what group would have him as a chaplain is out of line.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 Sure, by that point, it’s already been made personal and he’s making it more personal so no holds are barred. I just think this is the wrong road to go down, but then again, this is a general question and nothing’s been modded, so nothing is off the table, it seems.

I agree that some are trivializing church services. The similarities to restaurants and races are only in that both involve large gatherings and that’s often all that’s prohibited. In my area, churches are not closed, but large gatherings are prohibited so the local Catholic church, for example, has suspended masses. The church is still open, however, and people can go in for prayer/adoration. I believe they are going to resume masses next month while following the distancing guidelines.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Desmosthenes He volunteered the info. Geez.

Demosthenes's avatar

So what? If someone says they’re a Christian I don’t demand that they prove they are. I think it’s petty to doubt someone’s religious beliefs if they state them. It reminds me of when someone on here said they were in Mensa and a lot of the responses were “you don’t seem like the type who’d be in Mensa”.

Soubresaut's avatar

I’ve been following along with this discussion and finding myself wishing that some were less stridently partisan on this issue, because perhaps then the discussion could be more focused on whether state and local shelter-in-place mandates need to mind church/state separation, and if they do, then how/in what ways. And I do see that from many who’ve been participating, and it’s interesting to follow. But I also see some people who seem more interested in using this topic as another way to try and bash shelter-in-place protocols whole cloth, and once again defend the ignorant actions of a president they claim they do not have a particular preference for… That’s my observation, anyway. Thought I’d throw it out there. I’ll probably just go back to following along now.

Lolik's avatar

There is. Religion is not recognized as an authority in many countries. Also, many countries have a distribution of power in the legislative, executive and judicial

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