Mendocino County, Calif., has made it difficult to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. It has banned more than four people singing live and the playing of wind instruments during livestreamed services.
The move, say legal experts, is an example of another assault on the Constitution and freedoms by states and local governments.
The restrictions are found on the eighth page of a 13-page document outlining what is permissible for “venues, such as concert halls, auditoriums, churches, temples and playhouses, to enable a recorded and/or live-streamed event to be shared virtually with the public.”
Tony Suarez, vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, believes the mandate from Mendocino County reveals religious liberty in the United States is in jeopardy amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The majority of churches in the United States have complied with the federal guidelines given, to the extent of embracing streaming services and drive-through services,” he said. “Sadly, there are members of the county board who have an agenda to silence Christian worship.”
The countywide mandate states that only four individuals may be present for the live event and any additional participants must do so remotely. Those four people gathered together are required to maintain social distancing measures, keeping at least six feet of space between the,. They also are required to frequently wash their hands and use hand sanitizer. Any individual not in front of the camera is to wear a face mask when possible. Singing and instrument playing be done only “at one’s residence, and involving only the members of one’s household or living unit.”
Suarez argued that the restrictions are a clear sign of government overreach. “These individuals have overstepped and must be held accountable for their actions,” he said. “This decision must be overturned immediately and an apology issued to the churches inside of their boundaries.”
The restrictive measures in Mendocino County, intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus, are in place until at least May 10. Those who violate the mandate could be subject to “a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both,” according to the document on policy.
“Every Christian, regardless of whether they live in Mendocino County or not, should take note of what’s taking place,” Suarez said. “The church cannot be silent about these direct violations and intrusions on our freedom to worship.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice