This week, Texas voters voted against any future attempt to limit worship services by supporting Proposition 3 on their ballot. The measure, which bans state and local government from restricting church services, passed 62%-38% on Tuesday.
Many churches shut their doors in an effort to protect the congregation from the virus, especially in the early months of 2020, but other congregations did so to abide by state and local lockdown mandates that forced them to do so. Farther into 2020, when it was becoming obvious two million Americans were not going to die as predicted, some congregations were refusing to close their doors and sued to demand the right to meet.
Regarding the passage of Proposition 3, Mary Elizabeth Castle of Texas Values says the conservative group supported the amendment and called it a “common-sense” measure.
“Churches never should have been closed during the pandemic, especially for the time period of which they were closed,” she tells American Family News, “and all Texans of all demographics, of all political parties, believe that churches are essential.”
In another fight over First Amendment-guaranteed religious liberty, David Smith of the Illinois Family Institute says state legislators stripped away the fundamental right to abide by your conscience.
According to The Chicago Tribune, in the name of public safety, the existing Health Care Right of Conscience Act was changed during the legislative session by dropping language allowing moral or religious exemptions to a mandatory vaccine.
“Ultimately, this means we can keep kids in school, businesses open, neighbors safe,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker, “and continue on the path to bring this pandemic to an end.”
“First they take away the parental notice of abortion, usurping parental rights,” Smith points out, “and now they're taking away conscience rights. This is tyranny. This is the growth of big government and it is just despicable.”
According to the Tribune, the vote wasn’t so overwhelming: In the House, seven Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the change and two other Democrats voted “present.” In the Senate, six Democrats voted against it and four didn’t case a vote.
The controversial measure passed 31-24 in the Senate and 64-52 in the House.
Looking toward the future, Smith says updated legislative districts are coming and voters need to study the new map, he says, in light of how lawmakers voted on the Conscience Act.
“Because these Democratic lawmakers have a super majority, and feel as though they're untouchable,” he warns, “and that has to be corrected at the ballot box in 2022.”
Back in Texas, a total of eight ballot measures appeared on the ballot along with Proposition 3. The most popular proved to be Proposition 1 which allows charity raffles at rodeo events in the state. That measure passed Tuesday by a lopsided 84%-16%, and approximately 317,170 more Texans voted for that measure than supported Proposition 3.