Wisconsin officials have a change in heart after Catholic Church stands up for religious rights


LODI ENTERPRISE — The Public Health Department for the City of Madison and Dane County put out a new Forward Dane order on Friday, June 5, removing a 50-person cap on in-person religious services that did not apply to any similar secular activities.

The new order came after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison stood up for its right to free exercise of religion. Global law firms Sidley Austin and Troutman Sanders, along with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty sent a lengthy letter to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, and Public Health Director Janel Heinrich on Wednesday, June 3. The letter explained that Madison and Dane County’s arbitrary 50-person cap on houses of worship violated the First Amendment as well as the Wisconsin Constitution. Because the Diocese stood up for its rights, Catholic churches in Madison and Dane County will now conduct in-person Masses at the same 25 percent capacity level as secular activities such as malls and theaters, but with even more rigorous social distancing and hygiene protocols.

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