"Donald Trump Coronavirus Briefing" by the White House / Public Domain

Trump Brings Religion Into the Coronavirus Culture War

May 4, 2020

By David Frum

The antiviral lockdowns have banned most large gatherings: baseball games, sales conferences, college graduations, and religious services.

Religious services are governed by the same rule as other large gatherings. They are neither specially targeted nor specially exempted. Justice Antonin Scalia explained the justification for applying general rules to religious groups in a 1990 Supreme Court decision:

We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate.

But over the past three weeks, some conservatives have argued louder and louder that the failure to exempt religious services from the general rules during the coronavirus pandemic constitutes an anti-constitutional attack on religion.

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