New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will close churches and synagogues in New York City if they do not “agree to follow the rules” concerning social distancing and masks.
“We know religious institutions have been a problem,” he said, pointing to photos of Christian and Jewish gatherings. “You don’t see masks. And you see clear violations of social distancing.”
“If you do not agree to follow the rules, then we will close the institutions down. I am prepared to do that,” Cuomo said, according to The Christian Post.
In a Twitter post, Satmar Headquarters, a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, corrected Cuomo, saying one of the pictures used in the press conference was more than 10 years old.
“This Picture is from the 2006 Funeral of the previous Satmar Grand Rebbe, 14 years ago!” a tweet said.
Cuomo said that he will keep churches open under two conditions.
“One, the community must agree, whether it’s the Jewish community, whether we’re talking about black churches, whether we’re talking about Roman Catholic churches, the religious community has to agree to the rules and they have to agree that they are going to follow the rules. And they have to agree that they are going to be a full partner in the enforcement of the rules,” he said.
The second condition is that churches have strict enforcement of social distancing rules and restrictions.
He asserted, “If the rule is no more than 50 percent of the people in a black church, I want someone at the door when 50 percent enter the church, a person there who says to the pastor, you agree to follow the rules. That’s 50 percent. That’s it or we close it down.”
In late March, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also warned that churches and religious places could face shutdown if they did not follow lockdown orders.
Tony Perkins, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and president of the Family Research Council, said at the time that the mayor’s plans were unconstitutional.
“This type of religious hostility is what fuels non-compliance because it reveals a motive beyond public safety,” he said.
Photo courtesy: (C)Getty Images/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Stringer
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.