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Reader: If Churches Can Run Like Businesses, They Should Be Taxed

People practicing social distancing at the 800-person Bible conference held by Andrew Wommack Ministries in early July.
People practicing social distancing at the 800-person Bible conference held by Andrew Wommack Ministries in early July.
Courtesy of Andrew Wommack Ministries
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On December 18, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Teller County Public Health dismissed their case against Andrew Wommack Ministries Inc. for its failure to comply with COVID-19 guidelines — because those guidelines have changed for religious organizations, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“CDPHE revised its public health order to remove numerical capacity limits on houses of worship after several recent United States Supreme Court rulings concerning other states’ orders that imposed different capacity restrictions on houses of worship than on other critical businesses," according to a statement from the Colorado State Joint Information Center. "Requirements previously included a limit on the number of individuals who could be present in a house of worship, similar to the limits on other indoor events.”

While the size of religious gatherings has been settled for now, other debates rage, as evidenced by the Westword Facebook comments in response to our story about the settlement with the Woodland Park-based nonprofit. Says Joe:

So if you believe in a magic sky fairy, you don’t have to follow public health guidelines. Sounds reasonable.

Responds Stacy:

The courts have ruled that churches, funeral homes are essential businesses. No difference than a Walmart or a King Soopers.

Notes Jim:

If they are following guidelines (not that I trust they will, since they didn’t before) I don’t see the issue here. If I can go into a sporting goods store or gym, the same should hold true for churches. I’m not even a Christian and I get that. That said, wear your f#@king masks and stay 6 feet apart. It’s called “working together.”

Agrees Victoria:

 Agree. It is not as if the business of selling magic is any different than the business of selling shoes. But they should have to follow the same rules. If occupancy is limited, masks mandated, physical distance required or temporarily indoor activity prohibited, religious tribes should follow the same health rules. They can get their blessings to go.

Adds Frank:

If they run like other businesses, then churches should be taxed, too.

Concludes David:

Bill of Rights 1st Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The same amendment that gave rights to tens of thousands of people to take to the streets to protest during the pandemic also gives rights to the people that would still like to gather to practice their religion during a pandemic.

What do you think of the Supreme Court ruling? Should churches be taxed? Should large gatherings — religious or otherwise — be allowed? Post a comment or send an email to editorial@westword.com.

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