NEW JERSEY – Senator Mike Doherty has launched an online petition urging Governor Phil Murphy to allow religious services to resume in New Jersey with reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of congregants.
“When many of us could be at Sunday services today replenishing a much needed sense of hope in these uncertain times, we instead remain separated in our homes from the communities of faith that sustain us in good times and bad,” Doherty (R-23) said. “Our new online petition will allow people of faith to share with Governor Murphy their belief that religion is an essential service and constitutionally protected right that should be allowed to resume immediately.”
The petition states that, “it is possible for churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues to operate safely through reasonable precautions, including outdoor services, social distancing, and limitations on the size of gatherings.”
Further, the petition says, “we have a constitutional right to practice religion that should not be impeded through overly restrictive executive orders. Governor Murphy should recognize that religious services are no less essential to people’s needs than retail services, such as lottery and liquor sales, that have been allowed to continue.”
Yesterday, a federal judge blocked enforcement of an executive order issued by the Governor of Kansas that sought to limit religious gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
New Jersey’s restrictions, which prohibit all gatherings of any size, are stricter than those struck down in Kansas as likely violations of the constitutional right to free speech and religious freedom.
The petition to allow religious services to resume in New Jersey has be signed at: senatenj.com/petitions/openreligion/.
“Given what we all have learned about COVID-19 during the last few weeks, we believe it’s possible for religious services to resume if reasonable precautions are put in place,” Doherty said. “We’re asking Governor Murphy to allow religious services to resume in New Jersey in a thoughtful fashion. It’s the right thing to do, both constitutionally and morally.”