FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear warned churchgoers and others on Friday that if they attend an in-person Easter “mass gathering,” their license plate will be recorded and sent to local health departments, and a representative from the health department will then come to their door and advise that they will be required to quarantine for two weeks.
“Any individual that’s going to participate in a mass gathering of any type that we know about this weekend, we are going to record license plates and provide it to local health departments,” he said during his daily COVID-19 update. “Local health departments are going to come to your door with an order for you to be quarantined for 14 days.”
“Understand that this is the only way that your decision doesn’t kill somebody else, that your decision doesn’t spread the coronavirus in your county and your community,” Beshear continued. “Your decision to go to a mass gathering doesn’t negate the sacrifice of every other house of worship — 99.99 percent that are choosing to do the right thing.”
He outlined that his son was supposed to be baptized this Sunday, and Beshear was going serve communion, but that will have to be postponed. According to Heavy.com, Beshear and his family attend Beargrass Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ (DoC) congregation in Louisville, and both he and his wife serve as deacons.
In 2013, the DoC resolved to accept those engaged in unrepentant homosexuality and transgenderism in the church but left ordination up to each assembly. Read the resolution here. The Beargrass website also outlines, “We’ve accepted women as ordained clergy, not 20 years ago, but over 120 years ago.”
“I think it is not a test of faith in whether you’re going to an in-person service. It’s a test of faith that you’re willing to sacrifice to protect your fellow man, your fellow woman, your fellow Kentuckian, your fellow American,” Beshear said.
However, U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Rep. Thomas Massie both expressed that the governor’s plan goes too far.
“Taking license plates at church? Quarantining someone for being Christian on Easter Sunday? Someone needs to take a step back here,” Paul, who once had COVID-19 himself, tweeted.
“The same week Jews celebrate freedom from bondage and Christians celebrate freedom from death, Governor Beshear is going to be in your church parking lot scanning your license plate,” also remarked Massie.
Response from commenters was mixed.
“You need to take a step back. It’s not about ‘being Christian;’ it’s about churchgoers threatening public health,” one commenter responded to Paul.
“Most of us are exercising our freedom to worship at home on behalf of our fellow citizens. Those who won’t follow the rules can be quarantined. Your freedoms don’t give you the right to risk the lives of others,” another remarked to Massie.
“If we can social distance at the store, we can social distance at church,” one opined.
According to television station WDRB, Beshear’s warning does not apply to drive-in services, where individuals stay in their cars — although local officials have prohibited them in Jefferson and Hopkins counties. Beshear says he only knows of six or seven churches that plan to hold in-person gatherings.
His words also are not limited to church gatherings but sizable get-togethers of any type. An order from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services dated March 19 says that “[a]ll mass gatherings are hereby prohibited” but provides no numerical definition.
As of press time, 1,693 Kentuckians have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with 90 not surviving the infection.