2 councilors introduce resolution to ‘protect religious freedom’ in Bend

Two outgoing Bend city councilors announced Wednesday they would introduce a resolution asking the city not to use any money, equipment or personnel to enforce state orders limiting capacity at churches to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Councilors Bill Moseley and Justin Livingston issued a joint statement announcing their “plan to affirm and protect religious freedom in Bend.”

Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday placed strict restrictions on 25 Oregon counties – including Deschutes County – where COVID cases were peaking.

In the “Extreme Risk” counties, churches are limited to gatherings of no more than 150 people outside and must limit indoor gatherings to 25% capacity or 100 people.

According to the statement, the councilors believed the timing of the resolution was important following a Supreme Court ruling in a similar case last week and the implementation of Brown’s new restrictions on Thursday “that treat religious institutions differently from other sectors.”

Other industries are impacted by the new COVID restrictions.

Restaurants are bars are limited to take-out only or outdoor dining at 50% capacity; gyms cannot open and grocery stores are limited to 50% capacity.

The resolution will be introduced at the council’s Wednesday night meeting.


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