The Government of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, judicially endorsed this Tuesday a pastor of a Mississippi church that broadcasts the mass by radio to his parishioners on board vehicles in his parking lot, in defiance of a municipal ordinance that has Religious services banned for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
In a judicial document, the Trump Executive asks the city of Greenville (Mississippi) to allow Pastor Arthur Scott to celebrate mass in his church, called “Temple Baptist Church”, and warns that, if he does not do so, he will be violating the right to religious freedom, set out in the country’s Constitution.
Scott has implemented a peculiar system for keeping in touch with his faithful: from inside the empty church he broadcasts his teachings by radio on a low frequency, so that parishioners can listen to him while sitting in their cars in the temple parking lot.
“The assistants have to stay in their cars at all times with the windows up,” describes the Executive in his brief.
The Government argues that the church “does not have a website and cannot broadcast its religious services online” through platforms such as Zoom and, therefore, believers should be allowed to continue listening to Mass from their cars as long as they respect the rules of distancing set at the federal level.
To curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Trump government has established that meetings of more than ten people should not be held until May 1.
However, the Mississippi Governor, Republican Tate Reeves, has established that churches provide “essential services” and can continue to operate if they adhere to the standards set by the federal Administration.
In contradiction to the governor’s order, the Greenville City Council issued an ordinance on April 7 to prohibit religious services from being held in person or in temple parking lots.
In compliance with that rule, the city has imposed a $ 500 fine on every parishioner who has attended church with his car.
The incident shows the confusion that exists in the US on the rules related to the coronavirus because each instance – the Government, the states and the Municipalities – applies its own vision.
This case is even more striking because Trump, the Mississippi governor, and the mayor of Greenville belong to the same party, the Republican.
The city of Greenville is near the border with the state of Arkansas, in the Mississippi Delta region, famous for its cotton fields, and has 34,400 residents, of whom 76% are African-American, according to the data. from the 2010 census.
In Mississippi, there have been 11 deaths from COVID-19 disease and 3,087 cases, according to data from the state Department of Health.
Across the country, the coronavirus has already spread to 596,670 people and 25,239 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.