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Freedom of religion and COVID-19

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 4:14 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Nevada’s government leaders are working to find the right balance between protecting freedoms of religion and the apparent need to protect citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some Christians say Gov. Sisolak is not treating their constitutional rights with the same regard as he is giving to other groups.

"It was like a few days before Easter. The Governor issued a directive saying you can't have gatherings in churches of more than ten and it was specifically targeted at Christian churches that were going to be celebrating Easter mass or you know non-catholic Churches for Easter celebrations," said Attorney, Jason Guinasso.

He says on May 7 Gov. Sisolak opened restaurants, retail establishments, and cannabis dispensaries to the public.

"But Churches were still limited to gatherings of ten people or less," Guinasso.

"The directive was issued on May 28 capping Churches at no more than 50 people, but casinos and other establishments, gyms, pools, they could fill their venues with gatherings of 50 percent," Guinasso.

“Is there some sort of reason to think that COVID-19 might spread more quickly in a church than it would in a casino?” Bond.

"Well if there is a reason he hasn't done a particularly good job of articulating it," Guinasso.

“I just have a concern that the government needs to be respectful of an individual’s interest in attending Church meetings and that they need to construe any restrictions carefully,” said member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ryan Earl.

“He (Gov. Sisolak) has been on record to protect people’s rights whether those people are protesting against him or protesting something that he agrees with, but with the first amendment right to free exercises in assembly in churches he’s continued to treat churches with great animus, but not treating them equally to protect gatherings at casinos or gatherings at restaurants or other venues where people gather for substantial periods of time,” Guinasso.

KOLO 8 Evening News Anchor Noah Bond reached out to Gov. Sisolak Monday, July 13.

His Communications Director Meghin Delaney responded in an email by writing, "The Governor's Office has no comment, given the ongoing litigation."

It is in regard to a Dayton Church that sued Gov. Sisolak over the facts presented in this report.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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