On Monday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) wrote a post-Thanksgiving message on Facebook as he contended that the government should not restrict religious gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic because “God is bigger than government.”
“With all the things we can be thankful for in this season, I am especially grateful for our God-given religious liberty,” Reeves wrote, according to The Christian Post. “That right was upheld by the United States Supreme Court last week—blocking the New York restriction on worship gatherings.”
“Throughout this pandemic, Mississippi has never restricted religious gathering and worship,” he continued. “We made that clear in our court filings. God is bigger than government. The right to freely practice your faith must never be infringed.”
Last Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on houses of worship in favor of a Catholic diocese and an Orthodox Jewish group.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, it was the first time the nation’s highest court had sided with churches or synagogues during the pandemic.
“Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” the majority opinion ruled. “The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
As of Monday, the state of Mississippi reported 1,008 hospitalizations from COVID-19, making it the first time the state saw over 1,000 people hospitalized since the first reported cases of the disease in March.
“We are stressing out the healthcare system,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs noted. “Hospitalizations are hitting their peak. We have 12 major hospitals [that] have zero ICU beds."
Despite not placing restrictions on religious gatherings, Gov. Reeves urged residents to wear masks and avoid large gatherings. As of Tuesday, residents in 54 of the state’s 82 counties are required to wear masks under certain circumstances.
“This is a dangerous time,” Reeves said during a press conference. “We all need to adjust our behavior accordingly."
Reeves recently came out of a two-week quarantine with his family after his youngest daughter tested positive for COVID-19.
While Reeves wants people to wear masks, he pushed back against state officials who want him to impose a statewide mask mandate. He likened the proposed mandate to ordering hurricanes to no longer hit the state.
"It just doesn't work that way," Reeves asserted.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.