New Mexico has become the latest state to eliminate its COVID-19 restrictions on worship services, granting congregations of all faiths the option to resume full-capacity indoor services over the weekend.
JustTheNews.com reports the public order came from the state's health secretary. Previously, houses of worship in New Mexico had capacity gaps ranging from 25 percent to 75 percent since the restrictions were put in place last April.
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Even though the order does permit large gatherings of worshippers, it also strongly encourages faith leaders to decrease capacity levels and practice social distancing at indoor services for now.
"This change was made in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that enjoin states from enforcing capacity limits on churches that are more restrictive than other entities like factories and schools," press secretary to the governor Nora Meyers Sackett wrote in a statement from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News. "Nonetheless, houses of worship are strongly encouraged to protect their congregants and communities by enacting social distancing measures to bolster public health and minimize risk of viral spread of their own accord," she noted.
Fox News reported New Mexico allowed its public schools to fully reopen on April 5.
New Mexico isn't the only state that has discriminated against worship gatherings. As CBN News reported earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to lift California's restrictions on in-home religious gatherings to include Bible studies and prayer meetings.
In that 5-4 vote, Chief Justice John Roberts had joined the court's three liberal members in dissent. The majority opinion pointed out that the federal appeals court has rejected the Ninth Circuit's analysis of California's COVID-related restrictions numerous times, The New York Times reports.
"This is the fifth time the court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit's analysis of California's Covid restrictions on religious exercise," the opinion said.
And the ruling stated that before limitations are implemented, the government must prove that religious gatherings present a greater risk than secular activities such as shopping or attending the movies.
California has faced a string of lawsuits since the pandemic started after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) banned indoor worship, singing, and chanting.
The governor stands accused of religious discrimination because he didn't apply the same standards and capacity limits to warehouses, big-box centers, shopping malls, liquor stores, fitness centers, and museums.
In February, the high court told California that it cannot ban indoor worship services, forcing Newsom to revise his guidelines on church gatherings indoors.