Secular Group Calls on MI Governor to Repeal Religious Exemptions for Public Gatherings During COVID-19 Pandemic


For Immediate Release: April 10, 2020
Contact: Center for Inquiry
info@centerforinquiry.org - (716) 636-4869

Contact: Jennifer Beahan,
Executive Director, CFI Michigan
jbeahan@centerforinquiry.org
616-698-2342 x801

After receiving no response from the letter sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and the Governor’s failure to remove the special religious exemption from the April 9th extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, Center for Inquiry Michigan is again calling on the Governor and state legislators to repeal this special religious exemption.

Exempting churches from statewide prohibitions on public gatherings due to the coronavirus undermines the very purpose of such restrictions, said the Center for Inquiry, warning that making special exceptions for religious assemblies is both dangerous and constitutionally baseless.

“This is not about freedom of expression or freedom of religion this is about saving lives! If it is dangerous for people to buy paint at the hardware store, or gather with individuals outside of their household, then it is far more dangerous for large groups of people to stand in close quarters for an hour,” said Jennifer Beahan, CFI Michigan Executive Director. “The government has a responsibility to remain neutral, so churches, just like all other non-profits, should not be given special permission to defy executive orders during a public health crisis.”

The Center for Inquiry (CFI), an organization that advances reason and science in public policy, issued a national action alert this morning calling on its members in the 17 states that have exempted religious gatherings from stay at home orders to contact their state’s Governor and representatives. CFI has more than 17,000 supporters in the affected states.

“There is nothing about the walls of a church, temple, or mosque which makes those inside it immune from catching the novel coronavirus, and returning to spread it to their friends, colleagues, and family,” states the letter to legislators. “These religious exemptions clearly defeat the purpose of the flattening of the curve of infections and will cost lives.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.