Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Overlooked Legal Settlement Lifts Covid Restrictions on Churches in Virginia

Image: Opening of the "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom" or Bill No. 82 "A Bill for establishing religious freedom", written by Thomas Jefferson, and adopted by Virginia in 1786. For more info, look here.

Last week (9/22/20) an important legal settlement took place that rolled back covid restrictions placed on the churches of Virginia by governor Ralph Northam.

It seems that this story has been vastly under-reported by the media.

Below is an article posted last week by wdbj7.com:

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - After claiming Governor Northam’s orders illegally put more COVID-19 restrictions, mandates and limitations on churches and churchgoers than any other category of operation within the Commonwealth, four Madison County churchmen emerged with an agreement.

In Brian Hermsmeier et al. v. Hon. Ralph S. Northam, the plaintiffs argued the Governor’s coronavirus orders against churches went against the Virginia Constitution, Virginia’s Bill of Rights, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and other provisions of the Code of Virginia. The four Madison County men: Brian Hermsmeier, Joe Sansone, Mike Sharman and Charlie Sheads called to attention that these laws give Virginians more freedom of religion than the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Governor Northam and his attorneys agreed that for churches with fewer than 250 attendees, the only remaining restriction is Executive Order 63 (face coverings). The face covering restriction now looks at the individuals, rather than the church as a whole, when it comes to responsibility for wearing a mask.

For another report see this article from the Culpepper Star-Exponent.

This is a victory for religious freedom as the courts have acknowledged that the governor's previous orders restricting churches violated the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the laws of the commonwealth of Virginia. What is more, the churches cannot be compelled to enforce the governor's "mask" restrictions, but this is left up to individual responsibility.


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