Texas governor says religious gatherings are ‘essential services’ and can continue as coronavirus spreads

Law enforcement officials have arrested two pastors for holding services in violation of social distancing orders, but Texas Governor Gregg Abbott is apparently of a different mindset, saying Tuesday he believes religious gatherings are essential for his state.

While he has issued an executive order in regards to the continuity of essential services and activities as the coronavirus continues to spread, the order also mandates that Texans minimize social gatherings and limit contact with others who aren’t in the same household, according to The Daily Signal. But the order lumps religious gatherings conducted in churches and houses of worship in with other services that are considered essential.

“Essential services shall consist of everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its’ Guidance On the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce 2.0, plus religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship,” the order states. “Other essential services may be added to this list with the approval of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.”

Pastors Rodney Howard-Browne in Florida and Mark Anthony Spell in Louisiana were both arrested earlier this week for holding services in violation of social distancing orders.

Megan Hamilton

Megan Hamilton has traveled extensively throughout the Southern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America. A lifelong atheist, these travels have informed her political views. She currently lives in a remote location with a large herd of cats and four dogs.