Indiana declares houses of worship essential services, prevents government mistreatment in future health emergencies

by Peter Heck · Apr 26th, 2021 8:31 am

Last Updated Apr 26th, 2021 at 9:31 pm

In response to last year's coronavirus pandemic restrictions that were placed on churches and other houses of worship, the Indiana state legislature passed Senate Enrolled Act 263, officially declaring all houses of worship essential services and therefore not subject to unfair closure in public health emergencies. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill Thursday.

"Religious organizations provide essential services that are necessary for the health and welfare of the public during a disaster emergency," the new law declares.

"[T]he state and a political subdivision may not impose restrictions on … the operation of a religious organization; or … religious services that are more restrictive than the restrictions imposed on other businesses and organizations that provide essential services to the public."

Although Alliance Defending Freedom applauded Holcomb and the state of Indiana, not everyone supported the law. The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the new act, claiming that it unfairly gave special treatment to houses of worship.


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