(Natural News) The COVID-19 pandemic has changed worship in America sparking a debate over the importance of religious freedom. This is the topic being discussed by Dr. Steve Hotze and his guest, writer Doug Giles, in the latest episode of The Dr. Hotze Report on Brighteon.TV.
Early on in the pandemic, it was suggested thousands of times that social distancing measures and temporary business closures in response to the coronavirus were unconstitutional. For many, like Dr. Hotze and Giles, these were an attack on the church and religious freedom — something protected by the Constitution.
However, it looks like the courts have established that there are limits to these rights.
The First Amendment to the Constitution explicitly say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thereby protecting the rights of individuals to freely adhere to and worship in whatever faith they choose.
The First Amendment also guarantees the right of the people to peaceably assemble, as long as there is no present danger of riot, disorder, interference with traffic on public streets or other immediate threats to public safety.
However, the pandemic has made it clear that some of those in government don’t think these protections are absolute. Around the country, public gatherings, including religious services, have been halted to follow social distancing guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
State restrictions on mass gatherings have propelled churches to find alternative ways to worship safely and celebrate the holy days. (Related: Biden pledges to gut religious freedom protections, saying they give ‘hate’ a ‘safe harbor.’)
Clash between religious freedom and pandemic safety
Earlier this year, in one instance of a clash between the First Amendment protections for religion and pandemic safety, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with religious freedom.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America sued New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Their suit challenged the constitutionality of a state order that limited attendance at religious services.
The case set precedence over the unconstitutional discrimination against religious worship. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court found that the governor’s order was not impartial toward religious groups, treating houses of worship differently than secular businesses.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott always cast himself as a defender of religious liberty. However, it seems that he is the one violating the free exercise rights of religious groups.
Abbott previously served as the Texas attorney general who championed religious liberty. He previously deemed houses of worship as essential services in Texas, enabling them to sidestep stay-at-home orders. He also exempted religious gatherings from the statewide mask mandates.
However, with the delta variant wreaking havoc on the state, Abbott has seemingly made an about face. Catholic charities along the U.S.-Mexico border, for instance, claim that the governor’s executive order in July interfered with their ability to live out their faith.
“We want to stop the spread of COVID-19 as much as the state does, but for that to happen, we need the government to let us do what Christ called us to do: minister to the strangers among us in their time of distress,” said Bishop Daniel E. Flores, who leads the diocese of Brownsville, Texas.
These are the same sentiments that Dr. Hotze and Doug Giles discussed during their former’s show — when is the word of politicians more important than the ability of the population to live out their faith? The mandates have severe negative effects on the ability of the church to carry out its religious missions.
Listen more to what Dr. Hotze and his guests have to say about current events and the Christian faith in The Dr. Hotze Report, Mondays at 5 p.m. on Brighteon.TV.