Four Massachusetts churches plan to defy their mayor’s new order prohibiting in-person services of more than 10 people due to the coronavirus.
Though many churches have re-opened across the U.S. and virus rates are falling, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone has maintained restrictive orders for his city, which is located northwest of Boston, Fox News reports.
On Wednesday, the congregations of Christian Fellowship of Boston, International Church, Safe House Baptist Church and Igreja Comunidade Batista Shalom Internacional sent a letter to the mayor informing him of their plans to open anyway on June 14.
“Mayor Curtatone’s restrictions on churches would prevent even Jesus and the 12 disciples from lawfully gathering in Somerville,” said Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications for First Liberty Institute, which is representing the churches. “If thousands of people can peacefully protest in the streets under the First Amendment, certainly churches are able to safely resume in-person religious gatherings.”
The letter explains the churches’ plan to re-open safely by requiring face masks, social distancing and more. The congregations said they are instructing staff and members to stay home if they are sick.
The pro-life Massachusetts Family Institute, which also was involved in sending the letter, slammed the mayor’s restrictions as “arbitrary.”
“It is time for government officials to stop these discriminatory orders that single out churches,” said Andrew Beckwith of the pro-life organization. “Churches in Massachusetts are vital to our communities and just want to be treated with respect and fairness.”
On May 18, Gov. Charlie Baker allowed churches to begin meeting as long as they open at 40% capacity and follow health guidelines for the virus. Curtatone’s order is more restrictive, and it defies the governor’s order.
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According to the letter, Baker’s order clearly states that “[n]o municipal or other local authority should adopt or enforce any workplace health or safety rule to address COVID-19 that is in addition to, stricter than, or otherwise in conflict with any COVID-19 workplace safety rule adopted in [Order 33].”
While churches were forced to close earlier this spring because of the coronavirus, Massachusetts leaders allowed abortion facilities to stay open and continue to abort unborn babies in elective abortions.
Curtatone is a pro-abortion Democrat who has spoken out in support of radical pro-abortion legislation that would legalize abortions through all nine months of pregnancy and end the state parental consent requirement.