Just before 5pm today, the Governor updated the Safer At Home Places of Worship Guidance by simply eliminating the 50% capacity restriction. All other restrictions remain, including the 6-ft. social distancing requirement. Thanks to some observant pastors who contacted us noting that almost every other sector of NH society was operating at 100% capacity,
We’d like to thank Cornerstone’s Neil Hubacker for this Op-Ed. If you have an Op-Ed or LTE
you would like us to consider please submit it to Skip@GraniteGrok or Steve@GraniteGrok.com.
to our General Counsel & Director of Policy Ian Huyett’s thorough research & quick preparation over the weekend, and to the agility & courage of several NH churches willing to be party to a federal lawsuit against the Sununu administration, the Governor moved quickly today to drop the 50% capacity restriction.
Compared to the lawsuit Cornerstone began to organize last fall regarding the unfair restrictions on communal fellowship hours, this potential suit was far less subjective. Over the past few weeks, the Governor has been quietly opening up almost all other societal sectors to 100% capacity, with the exception of places of worship. This inequity of course is blatantly unconstitutional: both our New Hampshire and U.S. constitutions have special protections for the exercise of religion, but not for hair salons or stand-up comedy, for example.
While we are left to wonder whether places of worship simply have not had significant enough representation in the Governor’s reopening processes & structures, if there is indeed hostility towards the exercise of religion on his team, or if there is some other reason why places of worship were left out of the quiet reopening of almost every other sector of NH common life, we can all express gratitude for the Governor’s decision this afternoon: please contact the Governor to thank him for lifting the 50% capacity restriction on places of worship.
And from our attorney, Ian Huyett:
“As always, please remember that it is legally impossible for Cornerstone to do this work without the involvement of churches like yours. As we are an advocacy organization and not a house of worship, Cornerstone has no legal standing to challenge any government action affecting churches. If we tried to bring a case like this without church involvement, it would simply be thrown out. We rely on your continued support to break every yoke.”
Thank you, churches!
And thank you, Neil! Without our Cornerstone attorney’s decisive action, places of worship would very likely still be at 50% capacity for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter. Please send a brief note of appreciation to Ian!
Cross-posted with permission from Cornerstone. This was first published yesterday.