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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Churches don’t have a 1st Amendment right to ruin public health

Church during a pandemic
Church attendees hand in prayer requests at a drive-in Easter service in Santa Ana on April 12.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Some pastors believe stay-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 violate their 1st Amendment freedom.

It would be very instructive for them to read a separate report in the L.A. Times about the small rural Georgia hospital being overwhelmed because of the coronavirus. The source of the outbreak was a gathering for another religious occasion, a funeral.

People need to understand that public health trumps everything.

I remember sitting in my church on March 1, and couldn’t help noticing the woman in front of me touch her face about every 30 seconds. I sure didn’t shake her hand during the sign of peace ritual. By the following week none of us were shaking hands — and it’s just as well.

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Donna Bray, Norwalk

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To the editor: It must be noted that some of the worst clusters of COVID-19 infections have centered on houses of worship, where people are in close proximity for an hour or much more. This is in contrast to grocery stores and other public areas where people tend to get in and get out quickly, and stay away from one another.

If churches hold conventional gatherings in defiance of the law, each participant should be treated as a person who has been potentially exposed to the coronavirus and therefore subject to a 14-day quarantine.

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These people do not have the right to risk the health of the rest of us.

Roberta Fox, Costa Mesa

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To the editor: Why are churches from mainstream denominations (in other words, those with 1 million or more members and a history longer than two generations) conspicuously absent from the list of religious entities suing governments for prohibiting the “right to gather”?

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Bob Merrilees, Camarillo


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