August 16, 2020 – Hartford, WI – On behalf of places of worship across our state, I am asking Gov. Tony Evers to affirm religious liberty in Wisconsin, and exclude religious organizations from the face mask mandate.
While I feel it is important to honor an individual’s personal decision regarding wearing a face mask, I do not feel this should be a government mandate.
While I am sure many have raised concerns about the constitutionality of the face mask order, there can be no doubt that any government mandate placed on a house of worship is prohibited by the Constitution. The face mask mandate marks the second time during the course of this pandemic Wisconsin churches have faced such an overreach.
The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The face mask mandate prohibits the free exercise of religion in the following ways:
- Places major limitations on how vocalists conduct worship.
- Limits meaningful connection between faith leaders and parishioners during times of prayer.
- Limits the assembly’s ability to worship freely and openly.
Other states that have implemented a face mask mandate have recognized the protections that religious organizations have under the Constitution and have clarified that places of worship are exempt. The governor should follow this model and affirm freedom of religion in Wisconsin.
Bryan McDowell, Hartford, lead pastor, Family Church
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