Texans eager to return to church in person might have got a glimmer of hope. Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton updated a state guidance for places of worship this week, which some say opens the door for churches to conduct in-person services.
Jonathan Saenz is the President of the non-profit Texas Values, which advocates for Religious Freedom in the Lone Star State. He says the updated state guidance says places of worship “should” hold their services online, but they don't have to. In addition, Saenz says previous limitations of 10 or fewer people is also removed, which means churches are allowed have larger gatherings while maintaining social distancing.
While these may seem like little changes, Saenz says they are important. Many Texans worry about government overreach like they’ve seen in other states.
“They’ve had law enforcement show up and write them tickets for up to five hundred dollars for having a church service in a parking lot,” Saenz said. “People are also starting to say, wait a minute, we shouldn’t be afraid that we are going to get fined or punished by the government just for going to church. Even when we are trying to be responsible.”
Saenz says the issue is a constitutional one. The elderly and sick are still advised to watch services online. In Houston, many churches and synagogues are waiting until May to re-evaluate in-person services.