The First Freedom, by Andrew P. Napolitano

With a few isolated exceptions, religious figures capitulated to the state’s decrees on coronavirus without protest. From Andrew P. Napolitano at

Here is a pop quiz on the Constitution. What is the first freedom protected by the Bill of Rights? If you guessed speech or press, then you are close. The first protected freedom is religion. The two religion clauses in the First Amendment keep the government out of our pockets for religious purposes and out of our churches for all purposes. That was, at least, the intent of the framers.

The tyrannical behavior of many state governors, who have issued executive orders purporting to regulate private behavior on private property — even religious behavior in houses of worship — and in the process have enforced these orders as if they were laws, has ignored this. In America, governors do not write laws; only legislatures do. There are no pandemic or public health or emergency exceptions in the Constitution.

Here in New Jersey, Catholics were permitted — permitted — to attend public Masses last Sunday for the first time in 88 days.

This has deeply troubled many of the faithful, and many non-adherents, who understand the concepts that only legislatures write laws and that no legislature can write a law telling a religious institution when and how to permit worship.

So, who closed all the houses of worship? Why did Catholic bishops dispense with a nearly 1,600-year-old rule — which survived all sorts of wars and pestilence — requiring attendance at Sunday Mass? What became of the wall of separation?

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