Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that prohibits government officials and agencies from ordering the closure of churches and other places of worship.
Governor Abbott said the new law seeks to respect First Amendment freedoms, which were affected in several states across the country during the pandemic and mandatory lockdowns.
This Tuesday, June 15, the governor of Texas announced that the regulation prohibits the government from issuing orders that “close or have the effect of closing places of worship in the state.”
“The First Amendment right to freedom of religion will never be infringed,” Abbott said on his Twitter account.
The bill signed by Abbott came after state Rep. Scott Sanford, introduced HB 1239, which states that a government agency or public official may not issue an order closing or having the effect of closing places of worship in the state or a geographic area of the state.
“Churches provide essential spiritual, mental and physical support in a time of crisis,” Sanford told Tylerpaper. “Closing churches not only eliminated these critical ministries and services, but it violated their religious freedom, guaranteed by our laws and Constitution,” he added.
Angela Paxton, also a Republican from McKinney, TX introduced a companion bill in the Senate, which passed with 117 votes in favor and 29 against.
It should be recalled that Supreme Court justices went so far as to reverse executive orders of governors such as Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) or Gavin Newsom (D-CA) because they restricted the rights of believers during the pandemic.
State restrictions on indoor worship to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remained in place throughout most of the pandemic. However, some churches remained open on the grounds that they violated constitutional freedom of religious expression.