The Justice Department warned on Saturday to “expect action” in response to state orders limiting public gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak, including religious services, Axios reports.
“During this sacred week for many Americans, [Attorney General Bill] Barr is monitoring govt regulation of religious services,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said on Twitter. “While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious orgs. Expect action from DOJ next week!”
States crack down on churches:
The statement came after numerous states cracked down on religious gatherings ahead of Easter.
The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the governor’s order barring religious services of more than 10 people after the Republican-led legislature voted to overturn it.
In Kentucky, a federal judge granted a church a temporary restraining order ruling a mayor’s ban on Easter Sunday drive-in service “unconstitutional.”
Other states have also cracked down on religious gatherings while many churches have flouted the restrictions.
Barr says coronavirus restrictions draconian:
Barr told Fox News last week that he found the coronavirus restrictions “draconian.”
"I think when this period of time at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have and not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed, but allow them to use other ways, social distancing and other means, to protect themselves," Barr said. "We need to be very careful that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified."
He said the DOJ would be “keeping a careful eye” on how states restrict churches.
"I would hate to see restrictions on religion continue longer than they're strictly necessary," he said.