Minnesota Churches Aren’t Asking the Governor for Permission To Reopen
Some Minnesota churches have noticed their absence in Gov. Tim Walz’s reopening plans and are taking matters into their own hands. Catholic and Lutheran leaders will allow churches in the state to start holding services in person starting May 26, even though Walz’s reopening plan currently limits any gatherings, including church gatherings, to no more than 10 people.
On Wednesday, Walz announced the phased reopenings of bars, restaurants, salons, tattoo parlors, and some other businesses on June 1, with significant restrictions. Restaurants and bars will have to rely on outdoor dining, with tables at least six feet apart, and must operate at 50 percent capacity, with a cap of 50 people. Salons, tattoo parlors, and similar businesses will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity. The Mall of America in Bloomington will be reopening on June 1.
But Walz’s plan keeps a 10-person cap on religious gatherings. That isn’t supposed to change until at least the next phase of re-opening, which will bump it up to 20 people. That isn’t sitting well with some of the state’s religious leaders, who say that Minnesota shouldn’t have one set of rules for commercial gatherings and another for religious gatherings.
And so representatives from the state’s Catholic and Lutheran churches sent Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison a letter Wednesday saying they’re not willing to accept being treated differently from the “non-critical” businesses being allowing to reopen. Church leaders have given their congregations permission to resume in-person services on May 26, with certain hygiene and social distancing measures in place, and they’re planning in-person Pentecost celebrations on Sunday, May 31. They’re being represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, known for representing the Little Sisters of the Poor in its legal fight to be exempted from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception ma
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