JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced his support behind the Supreme Court’s ruling on limiting church gatherings.
In a 5-4 vote, the justices barred New York from enforcing limits at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by COVID-19.
This is a shift from the court’s previous 5-4 vote in favor of the limitations when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in the spot. Newest Justice Amy Coney Barrett voted in the majority.
“With all the things we can be thankful for in this season, I am especially grateful for our God-given religious liberty,” Reeves wrote in a Facebook post.
Reeves has consistently been opposed to limiting churches in any way throughout the pandemic.
In May, he mapped out guidelines for churches but simply said he reached out to pastors and churchgoers to “do the right thing.”
That came as one church in Holly Springs was suing city leaders for preventing them from holding indoor services. Reeves said of the issue, “It is very clear local municipalities can have guidelines that are more strict than the governor’s guidelines, but they cannot have guidelines that directly conflict with what we have put in place.”
As COVID cases in Mississippi have hit record highs, churches have had to make difficult decisions with large, indoor gatherings seen by health officials as one of the most dangerous things people can do during the pandemic.
Mt. Helm Baptist Church in Jackson still hasn’t returned to in-person worship. “Let’s just hold still for the time being,” said Mt. Helm Baptist pastor Rev. CJ Rhodes.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, said the ruling barring church limitations was mainly a moot point, because the Catholic and Orthodox Jewish groups that sued to challenge the restrictions are no longer subject to them.
“Why rule on a case that is moot and come up with a different decision than you did several months ago on the same issue?” Cuomo asked in a conference call with reporters. “You have a different court. And I think that was the statement that the court was making.”
Whatever the case, it doesn’t appear that Gov. Reeves will be enacting any restrictions on churches, even as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in Mississippi.
“God is bigger than government,” he said. “The right to freely practice your faith must never be infringed.”