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Distorting religious freedom will put people in danger

On Friday, the same day President Donald Trump confirmed that Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Pence traveled to Iowa and signaled to religious leaders that they should reopen houses of worship. He falsely claimed that “for most healthy Americans, the risks that the coronavirus poses remains very low” and thanked religious leaders for “[stepping] forward back into the exercise of your faith.” In addition, CNN reported the day prior that the Trump administration will not implement any of the guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on reopening, in part, because of a “religious freedom” concern about placing any restrictions on churches. The administration is once again trying to unfurl the banner of what it might describe as religious freedom, this time as cover for a premature push to reopen the economy.

The liberties enshrined in the Constitution still apply to every American, even in the middle of a national emergency,” Pence said on a conservative radio program last week, in reference to a religious freedom lawsuit in Virginia challenging the state’s stay-at-home order. “President Trump and our entire administration have championed religious liberty.”

The above excerpt was originally published in CNN.