Tags: Coronavirus | Religion | montgomerycounty | doj | coronavirus | covid | church

DOJ: Maryland Allowed Protests, So Let Religious Groups Meet

a peaceful protest in wealthy bethesda maryland.
Peaceful demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd hold up placards at the Bethesda Library on June 2, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 11 June 2020 06:21 PM

The Department of Justice (DOJ) wants Montgomery County, Maryland to remove the coronavirus-related restriction against holding religious gatherings since local officials allowed protests following the death of George Floyd.

The DOJ's Civil Rights Division sent a letter requesting that Montgomery County executive Marc Erlich and the county council to consider the "civil rights concerns" of the order banning gatherings of more than 10 people to “ensure that it imposes no more onerous conditions on gatherings for religious exercise than it does for other purposes.”

“Of no less importance, of course, is the First Amendment’s protection for religious exercise,” Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division, wrote.

The letter applauded politicians in Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington D.C., for its June 1 statement allowing "peaceful public protests" even though the order otherwise prohibited such gatherings to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“Government may not discriminate against religious gatherings compared to other nonreligious gatherings that have the same effect on the government’s public health interest, absent compelling reasons,” Dreiband wrote.

While protests are normally held outdoors and religious services are usually conducted indoors, the letter noted that hundreds of protesters on June 2 were "packed into a library" in Bethesda for a George Floyd demonstration.

“Montgomery County has shown no good reason for not trusting congregants who promise to use care in worship the same way it trusts political protesters to do the same,” Dreiband wrote. “The Department of Justice will continue to take action if states and localities infringe on the free exercise of religion or other civil liberties.”

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The Department of Justice wants Montgomery County, Maryland to remove the coronavirus-related restriction against holding religious gatherings since local officials allowed protests following the death of George Floyd....
montgomerycounty, doj, coronavirus, covid, church
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2020-21-11
Thursday, 11 June 2020 06:21 PM
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