A group of Republican U.S. senators have asked President Donald Trump to withhold COVID-19 relief from states that wrongfully keep churches closed amid the pandemic.
In an official letter sent out to the president last week, the senators explained that there were “many state and local government leaders” that were violating religious freedom.
“… there continue to be reported cases of states and localities prohibiting religious entities, including houses of worship, from reopening safely despite compliance with safety precautions,” they said.
“This discriminatory behavior violates our Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom, specifically the free exercise guarantee … Our nation needs its houses of worship now more than ever.”
They went on to urge Trump to support measures in Congress “to place restrictions on any forthcoming COVID-19 relief funding to states and localities that prevent churches, houses of worship, and religious schools and institutions from reopening.”
“Such executive action would send the nation and government leaders a clear and unequivocal message that religious liberty matters, and that no state or locality can unilaterally strip away protected constitutional rights.”
The letter was signed by Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Steve Daines of Montana, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Christian Post Reports.
Multiple states have garnered controversy over the extent to which they can restrict in-person worship services in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Some have argued that these various measures violate the religious liberty of churches, while others have argued that they represent necessary steps to preserve public health.