As many houses of worship across the country have raised lawsuits against what they have declared are unconstitutional state pandemic restrictions on their gatherings, Indiana state Governor Eric Holcomb has signed a new law that specifically designates churches as “essential” and protects them from discrimination.
CBN News reports that Indiana’s Senate Bill 263 would ensure that houses of worship cannot be treated any differently than other institution that has been designated as essential.
The newly-signed law “prohibits the state and a political subdivision from imposing restrictions on a religious organization that are more restrictive than the restrictions imposed upon other businesses and organizations that provide essential services to the public” and was authored by Republican state lawmakers Eric Koch, Liz Brown, and Aaron Freeman.
This is an incredibly important piece of legislation as many have accused state governments of subjecting churches and religious gatherings to discriminatory restrictions not imposed on grocery stores, liquor stores, medical marijuana dispensaries, or even abortion providers.
“This will protect that very carefully enshrined right in our Constitution,” said state Senator Koch. “As to the large gatherings, I trust, and I know that no religious leader would put the members of his church at risk in an irresponsible sort of way.”
Indeed, church is always essential, and state governments, like the federal government, are bound by the First Amendment to treat it as such.
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