Christians hold church in casinos as restrictions on worship are tighter than those on gambling
Libby Emmons | The Post Millenial | 07, August 2020
In Las Vegas, where casinos have been allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity while houses of worship are subject to a limit of 50 parishioners, one group has innovated to hold services within a casino.
Ralph Reed, an evangelical Christian leader, lobbyist, and author who was the executive director of the Christian Coalition in the 1990s, posted a clip of the praise service on Twitter. The event was political in nature as well, called Evangelicals for Trump: Praise, Prayer and Patriotism.
Packed house at #EvangelicalsForTrump prayer & praise event in Las Vegas. NV Governor banned church services but casinos can operate at 50% capacity. So we are praying in a casino. pic.twitter.com/fP4xE3lPAb— Ralph Reed (@ralphreed) August 7, 2020
While a Christian worship group plays, church goers can be seen embracing and enjoying the music. The Trump campaign rented the venue, according to Fox News, and it was held at the Ahern Hotel and Convention Center.
A recent church service was held in a Pennsylvania Walmart.
Among those speaking at the Las Vegas were Pastor Paula White, who is Trump’s spiritual adviser, Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, and Pastor Jentezen Franklin, Charlie Kirk, and others.
Trump’s 202o deputy press secretary Ken Farnaso said that “In a time when many Nevadans can’t go to church because of overreaching restrictions, President Trump’s campaign is bringing together evangelicals from across the community to pray, worship and discuss key issues facing Americans in the November election.”
Courtney Holland, of Human Events, posted about the worship service as well.
Our churches have been shut down for FIVE months.
In Nevada, you can go to a casino but you can’t have more than 50 people at church.
Well tonight, HUNDREDS of us brought church to the casino with #EvangelicalsForTrump in Las Vegas.
?????? pic.twitter.com/lpSJxiptPc— Courtney Holland?? (@hollandcourtney) August 7, 2020
On July 24, the Supreme Court rejected the request of one Nevada church to disallow the restrictions on houses of worship in that state. The directive from Governor Steve Sisolak that houses of worship could only have 50 people attend while casinos were allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity troubled those who were concerned with the constitutional right to freedom of religion and assembly.
The Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, of Dayton, Nev., brought the request, stating that the restrictions against churches and in favour of casinos, restaurants, and amusement parks was unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court, however, would not hear the request. The vote was five to four, and no reasons were given for the rejection, which is common practice when justices review emergency applications. While Chief Justice John G. Roberts voted with the liberal majority, Justices Alito, Thomas, and Kavanaugh joined in dissent. In the dissenting opinion, Alito wrote:
“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine or to engage in any other game of chance. But the governor of Nevada apparently has different priorities.”
He went on to say that “A public health emergency does not give governors and other public officials carte blanche to disregard the Constitution for as long as the medical problem persists.”
For its part, the state of Nevada said that other mass gatherings were being handled “the same as or worse than houses of worship,” including all live music and entertainment events, museums, and trade schools.
A brief said that “Public attendance is prohibited for all musical performances, live entertainment, concerts, competitions, sporting events and any events with live performances.”
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch for the Supreme Court wrote a second dissent, saying that “The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.”
Church services have not yet opened in many of the contiguous 48 states, but worshipers are no longer willing to give up the community and communion that comes with shared prayer.