Catholic and Lutheran church leaders in Minnesota say state rules that only allow 10 people in a worship service are unfair.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz recently opened retail locations to serve up to 50 percent capacity, according to CBN News. However, he has capped church worship services to 10 people.
“We are extremely grateful for the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion in this wonderful country,” Rev. Dr. Lucas Woodford of the Lutherans’ Missouri synod said.
“We believe that forbidding 11 people from gathering together in a church, regardless of its size, while at the same time allowing malls and other non-critical businesses to open for people to congregate fails to uphold that guarantee.”
Despite state rules, the Catholic and Lutheran church leaders said this week they will resume in-person services on May 26 and Sunday services will begin on May 31. Leadership also submitted a plan to reopen to the governor’s office in early May. They say they have not received a response.
“Today is one of mixed emotions as we make the hard decision to reopen our churches for our communities after being left behind as the governor’s office allows retail and other non-critical businesses to reopen,” Woodford said.
Eric Rassbach, of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the group representing the religious leaders, said the churches are asking for “equal treatment.”
“A number of different institutions within society – malls, tattoo parlors, liquor stores, casinos, just your average retailer on the street – are all reopening and have a roadmap for reopening fully, whereas the houses of worship of all faiths have been completely left out of the situation,” he said.
The churches are planning to restrict attendance to 33 percent capacity.
“They’re going to make every effort to ensure that there’s not going to be any sort of danger that occurs from what they’re doing,” Rassbach said.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.