July/August 2022 Church & State Magazine

New S.C. Law Says Churches ‘Essential’ During Emergencies

  New S.C. Law Says Churches ‘Essential’ During Emergencies

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMasters (R) has signed a law declaring houses of worship “essential services” that can remain open during times of emergencies.

Legislation like this surfaced in several states in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In the early days of the pandemic, governors in several states issued stay-at-home orders to limit large gatherings in the hope of curtailing the spread of the virus. Essential services such as grocery stores were allowed to remain open, but religious services and secular events such as movies, plays and lectures were curtailed.

Conservative legal groups fought the orders in court. They were unsuccessful at first when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the closure orders. But the dynamic on the high court changed after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020. Ginsburg’s replacement, Amy Coney Barrett, sided with the churches.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

Join the Fight and Donate Today