Several Montana counties have ordered churches to close on Sunday, a dubious use of government power that may very well violate the First Amendment regarding prohibitions against exercising religion. Lewis & Clark County, in particular, raises eyebrows in their edict demanding churches close. In juxtaposition, the county has not ordered Planned Parenthood of Helena to close, despite the fact that they are using much-needed medical supplies and don’t test or treat patients of coronavirus.
Lewis and Clark Public Health on Thursday ordered church gatherings to close to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Churches, along with restaurants, bars, and casinos, has been extended until March 31. The previous order did not mention churches and only forbade other establishments from opening up until March 23. Broadwater County has issued a similar order.
The Lewis and Clark County board released a statement that such restrictions were necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus. They write, “Lewis and Clark County government is actively working to support their efforts while keeping critical County services operational.”
And yet, the website for Planned Parenthood of Helena doesn’t state any imminent closings and will maintain regular business hours this coming week (see below).
Keep in mind that Planned Parenthood does not in any way deal with infectious diseases, and its Facebook page is promoting “LGBTQ health,” “chest-binding” for “transgender” people (teaching women how to restrict their breasts), and encouraging the LGBTQ “community” to fill out the U.S. Census.
Additionally, the Planned Parenthood of Montana website, which oversees all of its clinic locations, states that it will continue despite coronavirus concerns (see below).
Yellowstone County, which has not forced closure of churches yet, has nonetheless issues an emergency declaration entitled Emergency Declaration Resolution No. 20-31. As a result, Yellowstone County Health Officer, John Fenton, said that closures for non-essential businesses that pose a health-risk to residents would occur and they would be enacted under the threat of force.
Fenton said, “If someone still refused, then we would be forced to involved law enforcement to stop the operation. It is a legally enforceable order.”
However, Planned Parenthood in Billings will still be open, despite the risk of operating a health-related business that competes with – rather than assists – coronavirus recovery.
It will prove hard to convince churches that the coronavirus plague is a serious pandemic when unnecessary and non-essential abortion service providers remain open. Montana’s faith community has serious questions to ask, such as why the services they provide are less necessary in a pandemic than the services provided by Planned Parenthood.