In response to the nationwide problem of state governors issuing constitutionally questionable church closure orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ohio Senate this week decided to do something about it for the benefit of its citizens. It passed HB 272 which, among other things, requires that “no public official shall issue an order to close all places of worship in the state or in a geographic area of the state.”
The law further defines “public official” as, “any elected or appointed officer, employee or agent of the state or any political subdivision, board, commission, bureau or other public body established by law.”
Citizens for Community Values is an Ohio public policy organization affiliated with Focus on the Family. Its President, Aaron Baer, hailed the news of HB 272’s passage by the Senate in a press release:
“Throughout America, governors have exercised unlawful executive power, attacking our First Amendment freedoms. Some have gone so far as to order churches closed. Thankfully, Governor Mike DeWine has never attempted to close churches,” Baer stated.
“Yet some Christians and people of faith have been misled to believe that churches have been closed. With today’s amendment to HB 272, the Ohio Senate sends a crystal-clear message: no governor has the authority to stop us from peaceably assembling to worship Jesus Christ. The bill extends this same protection to all people of faith.”
“No one should have to go to court to protect our fundamental freedoms of religion. CCV is grateful for the leadership of Senate President Obhof and the Ohio Senate for sending this simple, yet essential message,” Baer concluded.
The bill now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives for consideration.