A North Carolina sheriff says he won’t enforce social distancing restrictions for churchgoers — slamming the rules as “morally wrong,” according to a report.
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell released a letter Wednesday calling it “unfair” that churches aren’t allowed to be fully operational in the first phase of the state’s easing of lockdown orders, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
“Retail businesses are allowed to operate daily under rules,” he said. “However, church folks can’t even go to church once a week, which is inconsistent and unfair and, quite frankly, morally wrong.”
Under the state’s restrictions, churches can hold services with up to 10 people indoors. Otherwise, the gathering has to be taken outside, according to the report.
“We know that inside, it is much more likely than you’re going to transmit this virus, particularly when you’re sitting or standing in one place for a long time,” Gov. Roy Cooper said earlier in the week, adding that “I miss in-person church services very much myself.”
But Bizzell said he and his deputies have vowed not to arrest people who flout the rules on religious gatherings.
“As long as I’m Sheriff, my deputies nor I will forgo that oath and interfere or prevent churchgoers to peaceably assemble and exercise their constitutional right to freely worship,” Bizzell wrote. “Before I would do that, I would lay down my badge and go home! NOW, LET’S HAVE CHURCH!”
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