MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Roman Catholic and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations across Minnesota plan to resume worship services in defiance of the state’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, their leaders said Thursday, the strongest direct challenge to Gov. Tim Walz’s restrictions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The leaders said at a news conference that the ongoing restrictions are an unconstitutional violation of their churches’ religious freedom, given that bars, restaurants, shopping malls and tattoo parlors are now being allowed to reopen. They said they shut down voluntarily in the early days of crisis but that executive orders now prevent them from holding normal in-person services.
“Being ordered to stay at home may have been necessary to protect the public health, but it came at immense costs,” including spiritual costs, said Archbishop Bernard Hebda, leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Minnesota Catholic Conference.