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Let This Sink In: Churches Are Shuttered Over COVID-19 Fears, But Violent Anarchists Are Allowed to Congregate with Impunity

Protestors demonstrate outside of a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The lawlessness we’re witnessing across the U.S. is staggering, as is the hypocrisy of leaders who have shuttered churches over COVID-19 fears but are allowing violent mobs to ravage our cities while ignoring social distancing recommendations.

It’s hard to believe that only a week ago we were discussing President Trump saying it was time for states to allow churches to open, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some governors and an awful lot of pundits who don’t understand the importance of church argued that it was too soon — that allowing churches to reopen would be dangerous and result in a spike in coronavirus cases. Many churches, including those in the District of Columbia, remain closed by government edict.

Fast-forward a week and we’re watching thousands of rioters congregating together, ignoring social distancing recommendations, and wearing masks incorrectly, making it more likely they’ll spread the disease.

It seems to me we have two versions of the First Amendment — one for peaceful churchgoers and a second version for those who would commit violence.

Churches, by and large, voluntarily agreed to obey government edicts to shut down during the pandemic. Those that have been allowed to reopen have made great sacrifices to change to their worship services to help prevent the spread of disease. This in a country with a First Amendment that guarantees the free exercise of religion.

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The protests we’ve seen for the last four nights over the unjust death of George Floyd at the hands of a monster of a Minneapolis police officer have turned violent across the country. While many of the protesters are peaceful, others have caused mayhem, riots, and millions of dollars in property damage. Some of the communities affected will not recover for years, if ever. People are losing their life’s work, their homes, their community services. Protesters are permitted to flaunt curfew orders and police orders to disperse with impunity. A lawless mob has control of the streets of America.

And the mobs are not obeying social distancing and mask recommendations that we’ve all been ordered to follow.

One need only watch a few minutes of protest footage to see groups standing practically on top of each other, joining arms to march, and ignoring the six-foot rule. True, some are wearing masks (whether it’s to conceal their identity or to prevent the spread of disease is unclear), but by and large they’re not wearing them correctly. They’re taking them on and off with hands that have touched God knows what, walking around with masks hanging from their chins, and removing them when they want to hurl epithets at the police, who are just trying to do their jobs.

Our government is sending a very disturbing message: The violent and disobedient have First Amendment rights, and those who heed government edicts, seeking to live peaceably with their neighbors, do not. That doesn’t bode well for our nation’s future.

Meanwhile, the historic 1816 St. John’s Church across from the White House—where every president since Madison has attended a service—is going up in flames. No one is stopping the vandals.

Follow me on Twitter @pbolyard

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Rioters Burn Historic St. John’s Church in D.C., Deface Monuments Across the City