Skip to comments.Pa. House passes bill intended to protect freedom to practice religion during disaster emergencies
Posted on 09/15/2020 5:31:40 PM PDT by lightman
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday engaged in a debate over a bill that assures residents of the right to practice their religion during disaster declarations.
The bill, which passed by a 149-53 vote, now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Tioga County, said the idea behind the bill was sparked by Gov. Tom Wolf discouraging people from attending houses of worship in April. After Owlett introduced his bill, he said Wolf and the state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine clarified in July the restriction on gatherings of 25 people or less to control the spread of COVID-19 didnt apply to churches.
We must keep this bill moving to make sure that its inherently clear that houses of worship in any administration, this one or any in the future, cannot even in the midst of an emergency declaration restrict religious freedom, Owlett said.
Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, said instead of protecting religious institutions, he sees this bill putting house of worship in grave danger because it implies that a governor can interfere with the practice of religion.
I think its important that we all stand together to protect our churches, protect our synagogues, protect our mosques, from the meddling hands of politicians and reject this unconstitutional attempt to insert ourselves in an area where we do not belong," said Harris.
Harris failed in his attempt to have the legislation declared unconstitutional by a 69 to 133 vote.
Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Philadelphia, called the bill a solution in search of a problem saying right now, the governors emergency declaration doesnt prohibit religious assemblies but could be necessary this winter if a second wave of COVID-19 should occur and there are massive amounts of infections and deaths.
If there was a mega church [which was] to come to Pennsylvania and have a service for tens of thousands of people, under this bill there will be absolutely nothing that state government could do, Boyle said. You might say no, thats not realistic. But guess what, that actually happened in many part of the U.S. South and in other parts of the country in the spring.
House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster County, made the rare move for a speaker of stepping down from the rostrum to participate in the debate on this bill. He said the governors actions make this legislation necessary.
He said the states founder, William Penn, who endured hardships to secure religious freedom, would never expect us to divert from the principles this commonwealth was founded upon
Six months into a pandemic, millions of our friends and neighbors are out of work. Employers large and small are shutting their doors. Some of them for good. Schools are doing all they can to teach kids that some may not even be in their buildings, Cutler said.
With all of this going on, I simply ask the chamber is now the time to lock up churches? Is now the time to not allow people to assemble? No, I believe that now is the time to lift our neighbors in need to serve our commonwealth proudly and to answer a call bigger than ourselves, just as William Penn did for many of us.
"I simply ask the chamber is now the time to lock up churches? Is now the time to not allow people to assemble? No, I believe that now is the time to lift our neighbors in need to serve our commonwealth proudly and to answer a call bigger than ourselves, just as William Penn did for many of us.
The Speaker has been paying attention to what has been happening in some surrounding States and, especially, on the west coast.
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Ok. But it’s called USConstituion. Therein, We-The-People are not subjects to non-law, e.g. un-written law. Specific emergency power, ie. executive decree, cannot lawfully be fully enforced unless said written law states the specifics. Makes it voluntary. I would think infraction fines would be so attached.
The governor won’t sign it.
If I not only saw but knew the person that rendered Wolf inert, I wouldn’t talk if you pulled my eyeballs out with salad tongs. Same goes for that creature Rick Levine.
No legislation is required. The Commonwealth’s constitution and the US Constitution guarantees the right and that surpasses any law. Wolf and his tranny butt buddy need to rot in prison. The majority on the PA Supreme Court needs to be impeached. The Rat state legislators need to be run out of office. If this fails, we still have our 2A rights to correct things.
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