Ohio Gov. Signs Bill Banning State Officials From Closing Churches In A Pandemic
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill into law that bars local government officials from shutting down places of worship, even during a pandemic, according to local news station FOX19.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen several states encroach on Americans' First Amendment right of worship and assembly, disregarding it completely by forcing the closure of places of worship and religious institutions,” State Senator Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) said. “While I am thankful that no such order was imposed in Ohio, this amendment is a preemptive step should we ever find ourselves in this situation again. I appreciate my colleagues' support of this important protection and I thank Governor DeWine for signing it into law today.”
The provision protecting the freedom to worship was added to House Bill 272 in response to a number of “stay at home orders” throughout the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new law states: “Notwithstanding any contrary provision of the Revised Code, no public official shall issue an order to close all places of worship in the state or in a geographic area of the state.”
DeWine did not order the closure of churches during the coronavirus pandemic but did say in March that holding in-person services would be a “huge mistake.”