Patterico's Pontifications

4/14/2020

California Governor Sued By Pastors For Coronavirus Restrictions On Churches

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:52 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Unsurprising:

Three pastors from two different counties in California and a church congregant are suing Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and other public officials in federal court claiming Newsom and officials unfairly prevented people from attending church services and criminalized “the free exercise of religion,” The Sacramento Bee reports.

In order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, states have implemented stay-at-home orders and limited public gatherings. California began stay-at-home orders March 19 along with a mandate to close non-essential businesses.

But some faith-based communities have insisted on gathering despite health recommendations. Dean Moffatt, a pastor in Riverside County, was fined $1,000 after holding Palm Sunday services, The Sacramento Bee reports.

Dhillon Law Group filed a suit Monday in the US District Court Central in the District of California on behalf of Moffatt and the other pastors and congregant arguing that state officials deprived, “plaintiffs and all other residents of California of fundamental rights protected by the U.S. and California Constitutions, including freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, and due process and equal protection under the law,” according to a report by CNN.

The law firm argued in a written statement that the same social-distancing guidelines allowing people to go grocery shopping or buy alcohol should extend to attending church services, The Sacramento Bee reports.

Addressing Californians ahead of Easter Sunday, Gov. Newsom advised: “As you pray, move your feet at least six feet apart from someone else,” he said. “Practice your faith, but do so in a way that allows you to keep yourself healthy, keep others healthy.”

The churches argue that they should be allowed to meet and observe social distancing orders in the same way as essential businesses that have been allowed to remain open:

“The state does not get to dictate the method of worship to the faithful,” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, chief executive of the Center for American Liberty, a California nonprofit organization that filed the suit. The lawsuit argues that the orders are unconstitutionally broad.

“If a Californian is able to go to Costco or the local marijuana shop or liquor store and buy goods in a responsible, socially distanced manner, then he or she must be allowed to practice their faith using the same precautions,” she said in a statement.

Chapman University law professor, John C. Eastman, believes the suit has merit:

“Obviously, stopping a pandemic is a compelling government interest” but the issue is whether the orders are narrowly tailored enough to meet the strict scrutiny required of laws dealing with religion, Eastman said in an email.

“Services with only a single family in a pew, and spaced three pews apart, with everyone wearing masks and gloves, would accomplish the government’s purpose in a much less draconian way,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Virginia pastor who said God was “larger than the virus,” has died from coronavirus:

An evangelical pastor died of COVID-19 just weeks after proudly showing off how packed his Virginia church was — and vowing to keep preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital.”

In his last known in-person service on March 22, Bishop Gerald O. Glenn got his congregation at Richmond’s New Deliverance Evangelistic Church to stand to prove how many were there despite warnings against gatherings of more than 10 people.

“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that,” he said, repeating it a second time to claps, saying that “people are healed” in his church.

Bishop Glenn also believed that he was essential:

Happily announcing he was being “controversial” by being “in violation” of safety protocols — with “way more than 10 people” at the church — he vowed to keep his church open “unless I’m in jail or the hospital.”

“I am essential,” he said of remaining open, adding, “I’m a preacher — I talk to God!”

Sadly, his wife now has coronavirus.

–Dana

This Should Not Be: Doctor Handcuffed In Front Of His House While Getting Ready To Help The Homeless

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:33 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Assuming the worst – even during a pandemic:

An African American doctor, who has been battling the coronavirus pandemic in his hospital and on the streets of Miami, was detained and handcuffed in front of his own home by a police sergeant as he loaded up his van with supplies he says he planned to take to the homeless.

Dr. Armen Henderson, an internal medicine physician at the University of Miami Health System, said his biggest concern about the up-close encounter was that the Miami-Dade police sergeant was not wearing a protective mask when Henderson says the sergeant got “all up in my face,” Henderson told ABC News on Sunday.

The incident occurred on Friday, just three days after Miami-Dade Police Chief Jorge Colina announced that at least six of his officers had tested positive for the coronavirus and another 125 had been quarantined pending test results. In a video statement, Colina pleaded with the public to help protect his officers, saying, “Please, stay inside, adhere to social distancing, wear a mask or a cloth face covering and be responsible. We’re here for you. Please do your part for us.”

Henderson, 34, said obviously the sergeant who handcuffed him didn’t get the chief’s message.

“He put me at risk,” Henderson said. “Now I feel like I should get tested, honestly. Most likely I will because he definitely was spitting in my face. I could feel it while he was yelling at me.”

It wasn’t enough to handcuff Dr. Henderson, or put him at risk by being unncessarily close to him (without a mask), but after Henderson’s wife, who was inside their home with their two small children, provided I.D. to the officer, he simply got in his car and drove off without so much as an apology.

Chief Colina tried to justify his officer’s behavior add context to the situation:

“We have had a litany of complaints pertaining to illegal dumping. The commissioner from that area has received many complaints as well from the constituents,” Colina said “There is a cargo van that’s parked in front of that home where there appears to be trash that’s being offloaded. That is the genesis of the stop. Now, what’s happened after that, what’s being discussed, the actions taken, etcetera … all that needs to be investigated and it will be investigated.”

Here is Dr. Henderson’s recap of the incident:

“He just said, ‘Are you littering over here?’ Do you live here? Do you work here?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, I live here. This is where we put our bulky trash and the city comes to pick it up every week at this same place,” Henderson said….He said the incident occurred about 11:30 a.m., a half-hour before he was to meet the homeless outreach group he works with to distribute supplies in downtown Miami…He said that when he began to walk away from the sergeant, the encounter quickly escalated…”I’m like, ‘OK, thank you officer.’ And then I turned around to get back to what I was doing,” Henderson said. ”I guess he must have thought that I had disrespected him or something like that. He jumped out of the car and started yelling, ‘You call me sergeant when I’m talking to you, and blah, blah, blah. And, you know what, give me your I.D.”’…Henderson said that when he told the sergeant he didn’t have his identification on him, the sergeant pulled out his handcuffs, placed them on Henderson and walked the doctor to the front of his squad car. Henderson said he yelled out to his wife, who was inside their home with their two young children, to come out with his I.D…When Henderson’s wife showed the I.D. to the sergeant, the sergeant removed the handcuffs and released Henderson…”He didn’t apologize. He just got in his car and drove away,” Henderson said.

[Ed. Given Dr. Henderson’s account, I’m guessing that the police officer really had to work hard to resist throwing in a “boy” at the end his ‘You call me sergeant when I’m talking to you…’ demand.]

It’s notable that, in the video below, Dr. Henderson is more focused on the increased risk of the homeless population – and thereby, the public at large – than the incident itself. While he was certainly (and rightfully) upset over what happened, his priority is caring for people living on the streets. In a county that has approximately 7,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Dr. Henderson’s mission is to provide COVID-19 testing, food, and blankets to the homeless:

Before the incident above took place, the Miami Herald profiled Dr. Henderson and his efforts on behalf of the homeless population:

“This is clearly an act of civil disobedience,” Henderson had told a group of volunteers wearing masks and gloves gathered outside a van filled with burgers from Wendy’s, hand sanitizer wipes, 75 camping tents and 20 test kits. He convened the volunteers from various community groups in defiance of countywide orders to stay off the streets because he felt it was necessary to feed, educate, shelter and test the homeless as much as they could.

“I feel this is essential to protecting the public’s health,” Henderson said.

The doctor partnered with The Smile Trust, Dream Defenders and a nonprofit called Showering Love to bring a host of services to people experiencing homelessness in Overtown. Members of the Overtown Beautification Team, employed by the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, assisted with distributing the camping tents.

More Dr. Hendersons, please.

I’m going to continue to follow this story and see if any disciplinary action is taken. At the very, very least, the officer should be compelled to make a public apology to Dr. Henderson and his wife.

–Dana

Survey: Should the November Election Be Delayed?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:11 am



[guest post by Dana]

A survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted April 8 through April 11 revealed voter concerns about the coronavirus outbreak and the 2020 presidential election:

Sixty-eight percent of registered voters think the coronavirus outbreak will have a big impact on election turnout in the U.S., a new poll shows — and nearly 4 in 10 support delaying the November presidential election until the pandemic is under control.

Democrats are more likely to think the outbreak will have a big impact (80 percent) than independents (66 percent) or Republicans (58 percent).

The survey also found that 39 percent support delaying the November general election until the spread of the coronavirus is under control.

Sixty-three percent of registered voters are concerned about the outbreak’s preventing voting in this year’s elections, including 39 percent who say they are very concerned.

Forty-six percent of voters say they are worried about the possibility that they or someone in their immediate family could become infected while voting where they usually cast their ballots.

An overwhelming majority (78 percent) also said it’s important for their state and local governments to provide alternatives to in-person voting, including 46 percent who said it’s very important.

In spite of President Trump’s claims that “mail-in voting is a terrible thing” because there is “tremendous potential for voter fraud, and… doesn’t work out well for Republicans,” surveyed voters said they would like to see expanded mail-in voting options:

Seventy-three percent of registered voters said they would support expanding access to vote-by-mail, and 80 percent said they would support expanding early voting…Majorities of Democrats (90 percent), independents (71 percent) and Republicans (57 percent) said they support expanding access to vote-by-mail…

–Dana


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