Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 4, 2020 / 14:32 pm
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that ongoing protests in the city merit exceptions to coronavirus regulations, while religious services do not. The mayor’s remarks have drawn criticism from New York’s archdiocese.
“When you see a nation, an entire nation simultaneously grappling with an extraordinary crisis seeded in 400 years of American racism, I’m sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services,” de Blasio said at a June 2 press conference, while defending his policy of allowing mass protests while continuing to restrict religious gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Ed Mechmann, director of public policy for the Archdiocese of New York, said the mayor’s policy shows that religious liberty is now considered a low priority in the city.
“It is clear that in the eyes of our government officials, the politically preferred viewpoint of anti-racism is favored and allowed, while the unpopular one of religious worship is belittled and denigrated,” Mechmann wrote on the archdiocesan website June 3.
With the differing standards of the city for protests and religious gatherings, Mechmann said, “we have once again been given proof that religious liberty is a second-class right.”
New York has been under a strict stay-at-home order starting March 22, and it is only in the early stages of reopening public spaces.
According to the state’s public health department, the city will not enter “phase one” of reopening until June 8. New Yorkers are being instructed to “wear a mask and maintain 6 feet distance in public.”
Meanwhile, protesters have gathered nightly by the thousands across the city to demonstrate against racism and police brutality following the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody.