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Michael J. Doherty is fighting to preserve religious vaccination exemptions.
Michael J. Doherty is fighting to preserve religious vaccination exemptions. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe.

Doherty attacks Murphy over church closures

By Nikita Biryukov, May 22 2020 12:46 pm

State Sen. Michael Doherty attacked Gov. Phil Murphy over the continued closure of houses of worship Friday.

“Governor Murphy keeps saying he’s guided by science in his decision making, but why is 10 the magic number for the amount of people who can gather safely in churches, temples, mosques, or synagogues?” Doherty said. “If so-called ‘essential retail’ stores can operate safely at half of their stated capacity, why can’t houses of worship be trusted to operate with similar precautions? Governor Murphy needs to stop eviscerating the Constitution and allow houses of worship to operate like other essential services.”

Church officials have been cited for violating the governor’s executive orders.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked two COVID-19 positive individuals who attended a church service in Arkansas in early March and found 38% — 35 of 92 — of the worshippers who attended the service later tested positive for the virus.

Three of the churchgoers ultimately died.

“People have a constitutional right to practice religion and that right should not be impeded through overly restrictive executive orders,” Doherty said. “It’s ridiculous that the governor’s orders allow New Jerseyans to buy lumber or a tennis racket at a big box store, but prohibit the exercise of constitutionally protected religious freedoms. It’s increasingly clear that legislative oversight is necessary to limit abuses of executive power.”

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