Good news!  Today, U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe ruled there would no longer be a COVID capacity cap on religious services in New York, because the coronavirus restrictions unfairly targeted religious institutions. 

Here’s what was going on: restaurants and businesses in New York are operating at 50% capacity. Graduation ceremonies were exempt from the rule of 25 people maximum in the second phase, and 50 maximum in the fourth phase. 

Religious institutions on the other hand, were set at 25% in Phase 2 of New York’s process to kill the virus, and 33% in Phase 4. Churches were limited to a maximum of 25 people, even in outdoor gatherings. 

Of course, other “outdoor gatherings” were encouraged by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio: (you guessed it) protests.  Thousands of people gathered outside in close quarter areas shouting, in close proximity. Many without masks.

Here’s a little primer on the Constitution, Mayor and Governor:  You can’t allow protests while outlawing church.

In his ruling, Judge Sharpe said De Blasio had “simultaneous pro-protest/anti-religious gathering messages” when he “actively encouraged participation in protests and openly discouraged religious gatherings and threatened religious worshipers.” 

That’s not good.

“Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio could have just as easily discouraged protests, short of condemning their message, in the name of public health and exercised discretion to suspend enforcement for public safety reasons instead of encouraging what they knew was a flagrant disregard of the outdoor limits and social distancing rules,” said the judge.  “They could have also been silent. But by acting as they did, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio sent a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.”

Restricting religious services clearly was not to save lives, because the virus does not only attack the religious. 

Sharpe issued a preliminary injunction. That means the status quo can not be maintained as the case is ongoing. Additionally, he ruled all indoor religious ceremonies would be limited at the same 50% rate as all other businesses.  To make it even better?  Outdoor gatherings of worshippers could no longer be limited by the state. 

The mandatory 6 feet of social distancing is still in place for both indoor and outdoor ceremonies. 

This is a huge win for religious liberty, one New Yorkers can now celebrate… in church.

Hat Tip: Democrat and Chronicle, Fox News

Image Credit: Wikimedia


About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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