Montana’s Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, was one of only a handful of governors across the country who refused to provide religious exemptions for coronavirus lockdown orders. Montana, among the least-effected by coronavirus, failed to make provisions for worship found in more than 80% of the other states in the union.
The Pew Research Center analyzed executive orders, directives, and guidelines from each U.S. state (including Washington, D.C.) and found that 80% gave some sort of exception to the rule specifically for religious gatherings and houses of worship. Montana was not one of them.
As you can see (above), Montana was on the short-list of states that ignored religious liberties during the Coronavirus Panic of 2020. Other states neglecting to consider First Amendment liberties were Washington, Idaho, California, Alaska, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Vermont, and New Jersey.
Twenty-one states placed some restrictions on religious gatherings, related to the size of the crowd worshipping. Nearly a third of the states placed no restrictions on congregation size. Montana’s Governor Bullock, however, placed no exemptions for churches (he did make specific exemptions for abortion clinics, pot dispensaries, and liquor stores).
What’s notable the figures presented by Pew Research is that states with religious exemptions to the gatherings bans have no noticeably different infection rates. In fact, states without religious exemptions (Montana is an exception) like California, Washington, New York, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, seemed to fair substantially worse than the nation as a whole.