The U.S. Department of Justice has expressed concern that officials in Maryland are not treating religious services equally in their enforcement of social distancing guidelines.
Montgomery County announced that it was moving toward phase two of reopening, which would allow in-person worship services provided they restrict attendance to one person or family per 200 square feet of space.
While officially secular venues have similar restrictions on in-person gatherings, recently a protest was held at a library in Bethesda where hundreds of people were present.
Rather than punish the protesters, Montgomery County officials expressed support for them, saying their actions were constitutionally protected.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Eric Dreiband, sent a letter to Montgomery County officials on Thursday expressing concern about the unequal treatment.
“The Department of Justice does not seek to dictate how Montgomery County determines what degree of activity and personal interaction should be allowed to protect the safety of their citizens,” wrote Dreiband.
“But in identifying the conditions under which gatherings for protest may proceed in Montgomery County, the Council should ensure that it imposes no more onerous conditions on gatherings for religious exercise than it does on gatherings for other purposes.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski