Bill to consider churches essential in emergencies advances

Historic Black Churches impacted by COVID

Even as America celebrates Black History Month the coronavirus is taking a toll on minority communities. Data shows Black Americans have a higher risk of getting COVID and dying from the virus. Hundreds of Black churches decided to close in March to protect their members, and they haven’t been open since.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A bill that would assure churches can meet in person in South Carolina during a pandemic or other emergency as long as other essential businesses can stay open is advancing in the state Senate.

A Senate subcommittee unanimously approved the bill last week, sending it to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill passed the House last March.

Supporters of the bill said they know the state never closed any churches when other businesses were closed in spring 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic started.

An exterior view of the South Carolina State House, Columbia
(Epics/Getty Images)

But they said the proposal is needed to make sure it never happens, citing other states that did require churches to close.

No one spoke against the bill at the meeting last Tuesday.

Window light is shing on rows of empty church pews in a Church Sanctuary without any people in it.

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