More deaths caused by religion: 12 states exempt religious services from “stay at home” strictures

April 5, 2020 • 11:15 am

The Ohio woman interviewed in the tweet below is insane: she think sthat being “covered in Jesus’s blood” protects her from infection by coronavirus. And she’s not alone: as the CNN report says, 14 (now 12) states are exempting religious gatherings from “stay in place” orders. Then she brags about going to the grocery store, WalMart, and the Home Depot. That means she could easily infect people who aren’t religious, or aren’t of her faith. That’s irresponsible if not immoral. And it should be illegal.

Here’s the CNN article about which states are being idiotic about this, giving religion a pass and putting unevidenced faith above public health. The article, though, names 12 rather than 14 states. (Click on screenshot.)

The list of the Stupid States who do this (the article gives details):

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Now some of these are worse than others: Wisconsin, for instance, allows no more than ten people in the worship space, and they have to adhere to social-distancing requirements. However, most of the rest of the states consider religious services to be “essential activities” and exempt them from any strictures, even saying that they’re protected by the First Amendment.

But they aren’t—not in my view. For these people aren’t just risking their own health and lives by going to services—they’re endangering the entire community, religious or not. These people, after they leave church, will go to grocery stores, pharmacies, and, like the woman above, WaMart and Home Depot. I can’t see any sensible view, or interpretation of the First Amendment, that allows religious services that pose a serious risk to the health of the nation, and, indeed, could lead to the death of those who don’t go to those services.

These crazy exemptions resemble those of the many states (discussed in Faith Versus Fact) that allow exemptions from vaccines if you have religious objections, or those states who go easy on parents who kill their children by using faith healing rather than scientific medicine. In fact, all but five of the 50 U.S. states allow parents to get religious exemptions from vaccinating their children (the enlightened states are Mississippi, California, West Virginia, Maine, and New York).

We know that religious congregating is dangerous; there are plenty of reports of illnesses and deaths of those who congregate to worship their benevolent and powerful god. They could, for the time being, worship remotely. Wouldn’t a benevolent God want them to do that? Nope, he seemingly wants his sheep to go out into the pastures and kill other sheep.

At any rate, if Hitchens were alive he’d have something to say about this. Without his eloquence, I can merely point this out and ask you to pass it on. Or, if you live in one of these states, complain to your representatives.

70 thoughts on “More deaths caused by religion: 12 states exempt religious services from “stay at home” strictures

  1. We’ve become so used to religious exemptions for pretty much anything – vaccine requirements, taxation, performing medical procedures, that this doesn’t surprise me. But it is mindbogglingly bad policy. These states should know better.

  2. We should expect more deaths from COVID-19 than previously predicted, leaders of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) said at a press briefing Friday.

    The models on which the current national estimate of US mortality from COVID-19 are based assume that optimal social distancing will be practiced across the country, … Under that scenario, the White House has said, the range of mortality would be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.

    However, Walensky noted, “We’re not properly social distancing. We’re not doing enough. And in that case, the models were wrong. Our prevention activities were not as robust as the models suggested, so the number of deaths will be higher.”

    1. And then you have the Republican governors who won’t put stay-at-home orders in place. Not to mention the Georgia governor who just re-opened Georgia beaches.

    1. Thanks…that’s it. Also, there are some additional states with no stay at home orders at all. Go out and do whatever you want. They include Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota. All republican governors of course. Oddly enough, here in Kansas, which is about as religious as you can get, we do stay at home. Difference, we have a democrat for governor. Stupid is as stupid does.

      1. I mean, I kind of understand ND (having lived there for 6mos once). Sparsely populated without well developed downtowns.

        1. It can certainly seem that way but still, most of the population lives in the cities. Fargo is about 105,000 Bismark is about 75,000 And right between those two is Jamestown with 15,000. In the winter time or anytime, they are all in the bars.

          1. Fair points. Wasn’t thinking about the bars, as was not of legal drinking age when I lived there.

          2. Yes, if you lived there for 6 months, it would start you drinking. Long time ago I did about a month in Jamestown in the summer. I soon learned all they did was party and drink.

      2. For the record, although Iowa does not have a blanket “stay at home” order, bars, restaurants, casinos, bookstores, theaters, fitness centers, and many other businesses (including, yes, religious services) were banned by executive order of the governor on March 17. The governor, for better or worse, is taking a “stair-step” approach to restrictions, and urging “personal responsibility”. She’s taking a lot of heat from local governments and statewide medical groups, however.

      3. That isn’t quite right about Nebraska. Statewide restrictions went into effect yesterday, but before that about 3/4 of the state was already under restrictions – bars, restaurants, hair salons, etc. closed, crowds limited to no more than ten anywhere (including churches), most stores that were still open were limiting the number inside at any one time and keeping customers spaced out, all playgrounds and sports fields closed, people strongly urged to stay at home if possible and maintain social distancing at all times everywhere. The “Directed Health Measures” are in effect until mid-May, with possible extension if needed. Schools are closed for the rest of this school year. Where I am in Omaha (Douglas County), we have been under restrictions for over two weeks. What Nebraska originally did, for better or worse, was implement restrictions health district by health district when community spread cases first appeared, with the idea that cases would build up in different parts of the state at different times, and the relaxation of restrictions would also occur on a rolling basis according to when they were imposed. The rationale was that if cases built up later in some areas, but restrictions were imposed everywhere at the same time and then lifted at the same time everywhere (when the earlier-hit areas were past the crisis), that would be before the late-developing areas would have had the full time needed. I know that some epidemiologists have argued a complete statewide ban at the beginning is better, and that is pretty much where we have ended up. But the governor of Nebraska (of whom I am no fan) was following the advice of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which has a world-respected infectious disease center (for example, they housed Ebola patients during the most recent Ebola epidemic). I haven’t been banned from Creighton’s campus yet (there is an “essential personal only” list, but I’m not on it), but I’ve been working from home for 24 days now.

        1. Word just came down from Creighton’s president a few minutes ago, the University is closing except for designated essential personnel. So I am in fact now banned from campus.

  3. Looking at the Coronavirus ticker this morning (it’s down right now for some reason), it won’t be long before the US has more deaths by far than Italy and Spain (the two countries with the highest death count currently). Not a lot of good news on the ventilator front or on the protective gear for health workers; when our death number is higher than the rest of the world’s put together, you might think our population will get the hint that we don’t have a handle on the pandemic and never did. These religious fools will only help with the increasing death toll. I do think Trump supporters will die at a higher level than those not in the cult. Sad but true…he can’t afford to lose a lot of voters, but I think he will, especially in the blinkered states that aren’t taking this seriously.

    It’s really shocking to witness just how stupid Americans are. Millions voted in an incompetent grifter, and thousands will die because of it. How many thousands? Time will tell, but it’s going to be staggering I’m afraid.

    1. I’d predicted earlier here that US along with Italy ans Spain would all have approximately the same, and worst in the ‘Western’ world, ratio of deaths to population, namely about 500 deaths per million, on August 1.
      That would be about 165,000 deaths for US and about 5 times less for the other two.
      We’ll see. I hope it’s not that bad of course.

  4. A pastor in Glenview, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago, held a service in March in which 40 of the 80 people got sick, including the pastor. Apparently, he has the virus and is not feeling well. But, according to the article, the church has a plan: “The church is relying on scripture for strength to pull through, and are asking for prayers.”

  5. I am surprised about my state (Michigan), since our Democratic governor has been pretty enlightened in other respects, and frequently despised publicly by Trump– another good thing that I like about her.

    I expect Islamic countries would be similarly blinkered. Anyone know?

    1. Ditto for Colorado re churches – but churches are definitely covered by the order that no group larger than 10 can gather. That should eliminate most church functions, and indeed most churches are closed.

      1. This morning, I called my neighbor to let him know that I made a container of homemade burritos for him.

        He answered his phone while at church. He went on to inform me that he appreciated the gesture but he would not accept my offer of burritos. Of course, this is due to the Covid19 situation.

        When I pointed out that he was congregating with people who could be transmitting the virus but still asymptomatic, and that I have taken the reasonable steps to fix my food in a hygienically and safe manner.

        I did not speak the last part to try to convince him to accept my gift of food but to illustrate that if he’s going to not accept my gift but continue to gather and worship his impotent deity, he is only doing a half measure at trying to stay healthy.

          1. Hi Douglas, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Except for my son and self, all of my family blood and through marriage are all batshit crazy Xians.
            On a positive note, it makes not going most family gatherings easy. I was informed by my mother that Easter dinner will be at her place. I simply stated that I refuse to partake in a dinner to recognize an outrageously improbable event.

        1. “He answered his phone while at church . . . he appreciated the gesture but he would not accept my offer of burritos . . . due to the Covid19 situation . . . I pointed out that he was congregating with people who could be transmitting the virus . . . I have taken the reasonable steps to fix my food in a hygienically and safe manner.”

          Short of his exclusively opening canned goods, I wonder whom the gentleman trusts to prepare his food. (I wonder if they had lunch in the fellowship hall after services.)

  6. Ick!!! Bad news!!! I live in Pennsylvania, and I thought our state was being more sensible because the inlaws in York are now going to virtual church, I don’t know if it’s the computer or the TV.

    But no, churches not as careful as theirs are risking the rest of us.

    I’d better get busy and write to our representative. Fat lot of good it will do, though, most likely.

  7. There’s a part of John Oliver’s latest video which shows the lieutenant governor of Texas, and Glenn Beck, making strongman statements consistent with the notion of a “death cult”, the brave individuals taking a hit to save the economy for the children and grandchildren who will inherit the economic burden.

  8. And as well as the listed states, there are also 5 or 6, unless this has changed, who have no ‘stay at home’ laws at all.

    1. As of this (Sunday) morning, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota have no stay at home orders of any kind, while Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina have only issued orders in part of their states. All Republican governors.

      Some justifications: Governor Kim Reynolds, of Iowa, rejected Fauci’s recent calls to implement a nationwide stay at home order: “I would say that maybe he doesn’t have all the information,” she told reporters this week.

      South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem told reporters earlier this week that “the people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety” and that state and national constitutions “prevent us from taking draconian measures much like the Chinese government has done.”

      There are other similar stupid statements from other governors.

      1. ‘South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem told reporters earlier this week that “the people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety” and that state and national constitutions “prevent us from taking draconian measures much like the Chinese government has done.”’

        But hey, it’s not draconian if the U.S. does it. (At least if I’m correctly perceiving the NY Times collective mindset. AFAIK, so far the Times only describes U.S. prospective similar measures as “onerous.”)

        A couple of related asides:

        On a friend’s FB page I saw a warning by a poster to the effect that persons of ill will are knocking on doors selling masks and the like anointed with some substance calculated to make the homeowner wearer unconscious, at lest by implication allowing these persons to rob one.

        I wonder if visitations by Jehovah’s Witnesses and the like will pick up in that many more people will be at home. One good racking cough at the front door should surely remedy the situation in most cases.

  9. In Dallas, I can tell you that the vast majority of church services are not being held.

    But I bet there are recalcitrants…indulged by our governor.

    1. The Texas governor signed the stay-at-home order exempting religious gatherings 3 days after a lawsuit was filed by pastors, contesting local 10 person limits on gatherings. The order also overrules any county or city limits for religious services.

      1. Isn’t that why there are attorneys-general, to handle such suits that come flying at states?

    1. Just accidentally caught part of (Queen) Liz’s address to the UK and was pleasantly surprised to notice that as well as “people of all faiths” she added “and of none”. I’ve never watched her annual Christmas Day address, so perhaps she does this all the time but it was good to hear the growing number of “nones” acknowledged – and by the so-called “defender of the faith” and head of the Church of England, no less. (Our coins all have the motto “DG Reg FD” – for Dei Gratia Regina Fidei defensor [“by the grace of G*d, Queen, Defender of the Faith”] – running round the edge.) BTW, autocorrect wanted “by the grave of God” – LOL!

      1. Those with enthusiasm for sport – and those with none.
        Those with skill in knitting- and those with none.
        Those who interpret the universe with phlogiston- and those who do not.

        It’ll be a long time indeed to truly address everyone.

      2. I watched it, and I found it surprisingly moving. It was a smart move on her part (or her advisers; but I suspect it was her decision) to refer to the broadcast she and her younger sister gave to child evacuees separated from their families in 1940 (yes – 80 years ago!), complete with tastefully posed period photo.

        It’s an overworked cliche, but we really are all in this sh*tstorm together, and HM the Q can still probably connect with more people in my country than any politician. Certainly more than Boris, anyway.

        1. Didn’t actually see it myself, just caught a couple of sentences on BBC Radio 4 inbetween finishing the washing up and taking out the recycling. But I’ll happily take your word for the “surprisingly moving” aspect, Steve.

      3. I saw HRM’s address, too. I thought for a second there she was going to sign of with a cover of this Vera Lynn tune:

  10. I’d say to those Christians that want to congregate:
    “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy
    closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
    Matthew 6:6. King James trasnslation (admittedly cherrypicking, but if they can, I can too).

  11. Kentucky does not have an exemption for religious services, and most churches here are not holding in-person services.

    Of course, we have several grand-standing pastors loudly proclaiming that they’ll continue to hold services.

    Governor Beshear has, in my estimation, done a good job of bluntly saying that such gatherings mean that more people will die.

    The challenge is trying to stop mass meetings while also trying to stop making stupid people famous.

  12. Maybe this is an occasion (if Jerry allows me) to applaud the governors who are doing well.
    First of all Mr Inslee (D) Washington, whose state was hit first, and hard. They appear to have been flattening the curve. He is -to US standards- also a visionary re climate change. My undisputed no 1. Would have made a Great POTUS.
    Mr Newsom (D) California, is doing equally well.
    Mr DeWine (R) Ohio, was allowing religious exemptions, but appears to be pushing back now. The rates in his state appear to remain low.
    Ms Whitmer (D) Michigan, she was forced by her Republican legislature to exempt religious gatherings, but tries to push back. I think no governor has been more critical of Mr Trump, or Mr Trump of her, which is good marks in my books.
    I guess there are many other ‘good’ ones, but these are the ones I heard about in far away South Africa.

    Here in SA they carry out arrests of those organizing events with more than 50 people, be they religious or other. Although the guidelines say 10(?) they only crackdown on 50+. It is not very clear.
    South Africa started the lockdown about 10 days ago, when there were 150 confirmed cases, and no deaths. At present it is 1500+ cases and 7 deaths, we will only know in a few weeks how effective the lockdown is. We see more and more people wearing masks in public, which shows a growing awareness.

    1. Living in WA state, I’m happy with Inslee. Though he needs a better tv team…whenever he has a live press briefing he looks to the right and says “if you see this graph here…” yadda. The graph/visual is never there. Argh. I wrote him/his team about it. Once was understandable, a week later, the same thing happened and that’s just embarrassing…c’mon guys.

      1. Could be worse— you saw the one of Trump clearly standing smack dab in the middle of a large chart recently, while someone was talking. Done as a comedy bit, it would have been brilliant, but… as we know, *nothing* comes between Trump and a camera.

  13. Kentucky has a few people who have been found to have COVID-19 and told to stay at home and monitor their symptoms but they are brazenly going out anyway. My guess is this is happening more than we know, especially in red states. Their thinking is probably that people go out all the time with the flu so what’s the difference? In the KY case, a judge has ordered the person to stay home and wear a GPS monitor around his ankle. That’s good but doesn’t readily scale up once this thing really gets going.

  14. … most of the rest of the states consider religious services to be “essential activities” and exempt them from any strictures, even saying that they’re protected by the First Amendment.

    SCOTUS’s First Amendment “Free Exercise” jurisprudence is a dog’s breakfast. (Native Americans, for example, can be prohibited from using peyote in religious practices, while Santeria practitioners are exempt from laws prohibiting unregulated animal sacrifice. Go figure.)

    My own view is that facially neutral laws should never be be held invalid under the Free Exercise clause, unless it can be demonstrated that the law was enacted for the purpose of adversely impacting religious practice, as demonstrated through its legislative history or the contemporaneous public statements of lawmakers.

  15. Thank you to the church congregations who are using social media to meet.

    As terrible a thought as it is, if certain church-goers must gather physically together in churches, perhaps they should not be allowed back out, but kept in quarantine there for two weeks. The National Guard could be used to ensure compliance (rather than continuing work on Rump’s stupid wall).

  16. Watching Dear Leader on teevee right now. He seems to think it won’t be long till coronavirus signs an unconditional surrender aboard the Battleship Missouri.

      1. From a hymn:

        “How precious is the flow
        That makes me white as snow,
        No other fount I know,
        Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

  17. I wonder why they don’t think their God removed his hand of virus protection because it is angry at them for electing Trump. I wonder why that would be.

    1. I mean its hand. Sorry about that. I let the “his hand” slip in there. I try not to do that but religious programming can stick your brain like so much dung.

    1. “If there’s a dumber hick in all Christendom than Georgia governor Brian Kemp, I dunno who.”

      Maybe a predecessor, Sonny (Perdue).

  18. I saw this clip when it first played in CNN. This wasn’t the only person who said they would be okay because they were covered in the blood of Jesus. I recall four in the clip. They also filmed people, some of whom had children with them, hugging at the door of the church. Apparently the service wasn’t as packed as usual, but, iirc, there were c. 200 cars in the carpark.

  19. Religious stupidity knows no boundaries. In Malaysia, a significant proportion of cases have been linked to a Muslim religious gathering which took place before a lockdown was announced. 15,000 or so people attended. When asked to come forward for screening, some fled or went into hiding! Others, came to hospitals when symptomatic, but denied contact with the gathering during triage. Later, after seeing the doctor, they admitted it, and as a result doctors and patients had to be quarantined and clinics closed for sterilisation. Other clusters have been linked to Christian congregations.

  20. And then you have the states that have not exempted religous gatherings, and yet allow it such as in Louisiana. What good are restrictions if they aren’t enforced?

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