Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., was criticized over an executive order that bans places of worship from gatherings of more than 10 people amid the country’s fight against the coronavirus.
“Who gave Northam the right to declare, unilaterally, without constituent OK, absent legislative approval, via a pronouncement, an executive order — who gave him the right to order church worshippers to stay home?” Cheryl Chumley, a columnist for the Washington Times wrote.
Her column pointed out the Northam’s executive order does not explicitly name churches nor does it call for their closures, but she mentioned a “Frequently Asked Questions” document that was posted on his website.
“Virginians are strongly encouraged to seek alternative means of attending religious services, such as virtually or via ‘drive-through’ worship. Places of worship that do conduct in-person services must limit gatherings to 10 people, to comply with the statewide 10-person ban,” the website read.
The violation would reportedly be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor.
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Chumley took a special grievance with the order since it came from that same governor who in 2019 said a doctor and mother “could decide if a just-born baby had the right to continue living or not.”
Northam, a pediatric neurosurgeon, was roundly criticized that year after an interview with a local radio station where he discussed late-term abortions.
He said the infant “would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
Chumley wrote that the fact that the executive order comes from the “same guy” who said that makes the whole thing “more egregious.”
Northam’s Executive Order 53 laid out the guidelines for state businesses. WHSV.com reported that restaurants are allowed to deliver food and hair salons that cannot practice social distancing must close. Like many other states, grocery stores, pharmacies and liquor stores can remain open.
States across that U.S. have taken what some say are draconian steps in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. The virus has infected 510,108 worldwide and 75,000 in the U.S. There have been 1,070 deaths in the U.S.
Pastors across that country have taken to live streaming services to get their message out while some pastors remain defiant and have held services and risked arrest. They say it is unfair that many state governments call supermarkets and liquor stores “essential businesses,” but not churches that provide spiritual nourishment.
“This is an unprecedented situation, and it requires unprecedented actions to protect public health and save lives,” Northam said, while announcing his actions in the state.