Despite state restrictions on religious worships and gatherings, The Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod of Minnesota have declared to reopen in-person worship services on 26th May.
The ecclesiastical bodies notified the govt. stating they will defy the reopening order limiting in-person worship to more than 10 people.
The social distancing guidelines will be followed and have a limiting capacity for their sanctuaries as stated by the church bodies.
The letter from the Minnesota leaders of the conservative Lutheran denomination’s north and south districts explained that they sent correspondence this week to churches across the state telling them they can reopen next Tuesday and hold their first in-person Sunday worship services on May 31.
Previously, the congregation had sent the governor’s office protocols which were established following state and federal social distancing
guidelines in the hope that the state will involve churches in its business and other institutions reopening program.
“We were disappointed to find that instead, you allowed retail and other non-critical businesses to open, setting a plan in place for bars and restaurants to reopen while limiting churches to meetings of 10 people or fewer,” the letter explains. “In the absence of a timeline or any other assurances that churches will soon be able to reopen, we find that we must move forward with our religious exercise in a safe manner.”
The letter stated that, on May 26, the conference allowed its parishes to resume public celebration. According to the Catholic leaders, opening on that day would “give us time to be ready for the 31 May Pentecost celebration.”
The letter includes that,” “Parishes will be expected to follow the strict sanitation and social distancing guidelines we have released and will have to restrict attendance to one-third of the church’s seating capacity.”
The Becket Foundation, a law firm in the area of religious freedom that successfully argued cases before the United States. Supreme Court, threw its weight behind reopening proposals for the Minnesota churches.
“Now that you have determined that current circumstances allow the partial reopening of almost every ‘critical’ and ‘non-critical’ Minnesota business with appropriate safeguards, there is no valid, non-discriminatory reason to continue the blanket closure of churches,” Rassbach’s letter reads.
“To the contrary, basic equality and honest science — not to mention the special solicitude afforded to religious freedom under both the federal and Minnesota constitutions — require the end of this discriminatory policy and restoration of desperately needed in-person worship.”
As several states are in the early stages of their reopening plans, some churches have been troubled by what they consider to be unreasonable delays and limitations on when and how they will reopen for worship services in person.
Legal action on this matter has yielded varied results.
But, this month, the U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman released an opinion denying a appeal from churches for relief from a separate Illinois state order banning 10 or more individuals from worship gatherings. An injunction would risk the lives of congregants of the plaintiffs, as well as the lives of family members, friends, co-workers and other members of their communities with whom they come into contact,” Gettleman wrote. “Their interest in social programs does and should not outweigh the public’s health and safety.”