New York’s Double Standard

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by Martina Moyski  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 15, 2020   

Catholics and Jews fight back

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NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - Catholic priests and Jewish congregants are suing New York's Democratic leaders for allegedly using Wuhan virus restrictions to single out people of faith.

The lawsuit, leveled against New York governor Andrew Cuomo, his attorney general Letitia James and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, asserts these leaders used a "blatant double standard" when implementing the pandemic-related restrictions.

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Christopher Ferrara

"Favored businesses ... as well as favored mass demonstrations ... are totally exempt from the challenged gathering limits, while defendants irrationally and capriciously continue to forbid religious ceremonies ... and other comparatively tiny gatherings on the now patently specious grounds that they will cause death if allowed to occur," according to the lawsuit.

Thomas More Society (TMS) is representing the plaintiffs, who include two Catholic priests — Steven Soos and Nicholas Stamos — and three Orthodox Jewish congregants — Elchanan Perr, Daniel Schonborn, and Mayer Mayerfeld. TMS, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to pro-life, pro-family and religious liberty cases, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court on June 10.

The lawsuit charges the three defendants violated the plaintiffs' rights to free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and expressive association under the First Amendment as well as violating due process protected by the 14th Amendment.

It further accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo of acting against New York state law and the New York State Constitution. 

The governor and his agents, along with New York City's mayor, have employed favoritism and political platforms against people of faith.

TMS related to Church Militant an explanation from special counsel Christopher Ferrara on how both the "emergency stay-home" and the "reopening plan declarations" discriminated against houses of worship.

"They are illegally content-based, elaborate, arbitrary and pseudo-scientific," Ferrara asserted. "The governor and his agents, along with New York City's mayor have employed favoritism and political platforms against people of faith."

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While the restrictions were in place, thousands of protesters and looters roamed throughout the Big Apple, unchecked and unbeholden to social distancing regulations, following George Floyd's murder. Observing this incongruity, Ferrara noted that in addition to the unconstitutional and discriminatory nature of the defendants' orders, their so-called science was also irrational.

He remarked, "Why is a large worship gathering deemed more dangerous than a mass protest, full of shouting, arm-waving people in close proximity to one another?"

"It is time to end New York's experiment in absolute monarchy," said Ferrara. "We are asking the court to put an end to these unconstitutional executive orders and their prejudicial enforcement."

Why is a large worship gathering deemed more dangerous than a mass protest, full of shouting, arm-waving people in close proximity to one another?

TMS told Church Militant that double standards applied by Cuomo and de Blasio include:

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    Mayor Bill de Blasio (red tie) ignoring his own sanctions
    Mayor de Blasio didn't wear a supposedly required mask during a mass political gathering June 4 at New York City's Cadman Plaza
  • The rally did not observe the 10-person limit nor keep to social distancing that he supposedly prescribed for "non-essential gatherings"
  • Hasidic Jewish children were kicked out of a park in June in Williamsburg, New York, however, by a police officer enforcing Cuomo's and de Blasio's 10-person limit on "non-essential gatherings"
  • In April, de Blasio threatened a Jewish community with arrests and prosecutions for "illegal" mass-religious gatherings with the mayor appearing on the scene in-person to ensure the dispersal of a Jewish funeral

Regarding the two Catholic priests, Frs. Soos and Stamos, TMS points out their ministerial gatherings were limited to 10 persons or less even if they followed "social distancing" measures.

In addition, the priests' churches still remain under the 10-person limit for "non-essential gatherings" as of May 29. In other words, religious worship services have been banned or restricted, while mass protests have gone unchecked.

The U.S. District Judge ordered the defendants to file a response by June 15.

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