Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that it is “beyond the pale” for Virginia state to sanction a church for holding a 16-person church service on Palm Sunday.
Pence was responding to news that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is siding with the Lighthouse Fellowship Church on Chincoteague Island, which is suing Gov. Ralph Northam after a pastor was threatened with a $2,500 fine or jail time for violating the states CCP virus lockdown restrictions.
“Even in the midst of a national emergency, every American enjoys our cherished liberties, including the freedom of religion,” Pence said during an interview with “The Brian Kilmeade Show” on Fox News Radio.
On April 5, Pastor Kevin Wilson was served a summons for violating the Virginia Constitution, after he held a service for 16 people in the church, which usually holds up to 293 people. Those who attended the service were reportedly spaced far apart from one another.
According to the churchs federal lawsuit, a police officer entered the church, made “unprovoked hostile and threatening statements” to attendees, and told a member “they could not have more than 10 people spaced 6 feet apart.”
“The very idea that the Commonwealth of Virginia would would sanction a church for having 16 people come to a Palm Sunday service when I think the church actually seats about 250 was just beyond the pale,” Pence said.
The DOJ told Fox News in a statement this week that the Commonwealth of Virginia has not provided a valid reason “for refusing to trust congregants who promise to use care in worship in the same way it trusts accountants, lawyers, and other workers to do the same.”
Pence, who heads the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said he is “truly grateful” for Attorney General Barr for “standing by religious liberty.”
“As we approach the National Day of Prayer this Thursday, were going to be celebrating the faith of the American people and the freedom to practice and live out our faith everyday,” Pence continued.
“Thats why I wanted to speak out in favor of the DOJs action and just to assure every American that we are going to stand by men and women of faith of every religion in this country and protect—even in this challenging time—protect their freedom of religion.”