RALEIGH – Plenty of local officials across the State of North Carolina have questioned the appropriateness of Governor Roy Cooper’s shutdown orders for their particular communities. Moreover, citizens have rightfully questioned what for all intents and purposes can be deemed infringements of core rights, such as that of religious freedom.
In person, indoor church services have been forbidden by Cooper’s edicts, with local ordinances even prohibiting drive-in services. Law enforcement has been strained to awkwardly enforce orders that make no sense, as other ‘essential’ retail stores could host people indoors and mingling. The image of a slam full Lowes Home Improvement parking lot on Saturday, contrasted with that of an empty church parking lot on Sunday just does not seem right.
The N.C. Sheriffs Association seems to agree, and they’ve asked Governor Cooper to amend his executive order so people can go to church.
From North State Journal:
“[…] The resolution states that the restrictions in Cooper’s Executive Order No. 138 are “significantly more restrictive than the restrictions in Executive Order No. 138 on ‘Retail Businesses.’”
The sheriffs said they believe that “the restrictions and recommended guidelines that apply to persons who gather to worship should be no more stringent than those that apply to businesses that are allowed to remain open.”
Cooper’s order had acknowledged that worship and other “First Amendment activities” — which he did not define — were not included in the definition of mass gatherings but it went on to say that those activities had to be outside unless holding them outside was “impossible.”
The sheriffs said that “many citizens have told sheriffs that they do not understand or agree with the Governor’s limits on worship services that are more restrictive than … limits on businesses ….”
The group asked the governor to “amend Executive Order No. 138 to provide that indoor worship services are not prohibited by Executive Order No. 138 if they adhere to similar requirements that allow for the operation of retail businesses.” […]”
The restrictions on religious services on account of mass gatherings, while allowing for myriad retail services only ever made sense to politicians that view worship as less essential than retail. This, and so many other directives, has been an affront to our Bill of Rights from the start. Law enforcement officers, who swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution(s), have been placed by Cooper in this unenviable position of enforcing orders or honoring their oath.
It’s completely justified for the Sheriffs Association to want some consistency, at the very least. The fact that they are stepping up is a welcome sign. Some sheriffs around the country have taken a stand against enforcing such draconian lockdown measures on account of loyalty to the Constitution and securing the blessings of liberty. Sheriffs in North Carolina, the ones who care about the primacy of the Constitution, would do well to display a similar vigilance wit regards to core rights.
Read more about the resolution here.