Nevada Casinos Can Open at 50% Capacity But Churches are Limited to 50 People

State   |   Gary Bauer   |   Jul 27, 2020   |   8:11PM   |   Carson City, Nevada

Late Friday, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal challenging Nevada’s onerous restrictions on in-person church services. While the state has allowed businesses such as casinos and movie theaters to accommodate customers up to 50% of normal capacity, the state has capped in-person church services to no more than 50 people, regardless of the church’s capacity.

It’s an obvious double standard by the state, and an outrageous decision by the Supreme Court. The four left-wing justices voted exactly as expected. Sadly, Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush, joined them and continues to become more unreliable.

In many respects, Friday’s decision essentially ignores the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. State governments are now treating churches as if they have fewer constitutional protections than other institutions.

As a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, I would not be surprised at all to hear that communist China was restricting church attendance. But as an American citizen, I am shocked to hear it is happening in this country.

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This issue proves yet again just how important the courts are. Thankfully, four justices were willing to overturn Nevada’s discriminatory order. In a brilliant dissent, Justice Neil Gorsuch declared:

“In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion. The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.” Note: Gary Bauer is the president of American Values, a national pro-family organization and is the former president of the Family Research Council. Bauer ran for the Republican nomination for president and appears frequently on radio and television programs.