US Catholic diocese threatens to sue govt for restricting churches but not bars, malls By Dorothy Cummings McLean for Life Site News
‘This unequal and unfair treatment violates the Church’s cherished constitutional freedoms,’ a law firm representing the Diocese of Madison declared.
MADISON, Wisconsin, June 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― The Catholic Diocese of Madison has warned civil authorities that it is prepared to take them to court if their discriminatory reopening protocols do not change immediately that allow large numbers to attend shopping centers, restaurants, and bars but not churches.
Yesterday, lawyers acting for the Diocese of Madison sent a letter to Madison mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Dane County executive Joe Parisi, and Madison/Dane County Public Health director Jahnel Heinrich. It stated that their public health order limiting religious congregations to just 50 people is discriminatory.
The May 22 order, which represents the city’s and county’s reopening plan, allows several public establishments to operate at 25% capacity. The 50-person cap imposed on places of worship does not apply to shopping malls, bars, restaurants, spas, gyms, salons, museums, movie theaters, community centers, bowling alleys, skating rinks, trampoline parks, and many other public venues.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway has also stated that there will be no government restrictions on public protests.
“This treats religious interests unequally and unfairly,” stated law firm Sidney Austin, noting that “hundreds or even thousands” of people could gather for non-religious activities together if the venue were big enough.
“But in no event, not even in the largest synagogue, mosque, church, or temple, and no matter how carefully spaced or protected, shall more than 50 people gather for worship,” the firm continued.
“This unequal and unfair treatment violates the Church’s cherished constitutional freedoms and, more importantly, hobbles unconscionably its pastoral mission.”
In the case of large churches, the 50-person cap would mean the building is operating at only 5 percent of capacity.