On Wednesday a committee of Republican lawmakers in Kansas decided to overthrow Gov. Laura Kelly (D) over her decision to limit church services to 10 or fewer people during the coronavirus outbreak. While the Bible says “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” for the Kansas GOP, it simply wasn’t enough.
Already three Kansans have contracted coronavirus from being at church, and in a scathing editorial, the Kansas City Star shredded the Republicans for putting lives in danger.
“More Kansans will get sick because of the committee’s vote. More lives will be at risk,’ the editorial began.
Most decisions like this take a two-thirds vote of the Senate, but lawmakers have already left Topeka. They left The Legislative Coordinating Council in power to “review” the governor’s orders around the virus.
“All the Republicans on the committee voted to overturn the order. The Democrats voted to keep it,” said the Star.
While decisions to protect Kansans shouldn’t be a partisan choice, in Kansas, it’s taken a nasty turn toward ideological zealots putting politics above lives.
“To be clear: Kelly did not prohibit anyone from praying or worshiping,” the Star reiterated. “She simply limited mass church attendance in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, just as other governors across the country have done.”
The state has 12 “clusters” of coronavirus outbreaks, three of which came from church activities. In a normal world, it should be enough to make a conclusion to limit activities.
“As we approach the peak of this pandemic, there is no longer any question that putting a stop to large gatherings is an absolute imperative,” said the Star. “Most Kansans understand that the only safe decision is to stay home. That Kansas lawmakers were even debating this question should deeply trouble their constituents. The governor’s order was inarguably necessary and appropriately limited. Forty-four states, including Missouri, limit church attendance to 10 persons or fewer, or no one at all.”
While many Americans are coming together to try and protect each other, in Kansas, “Republicans spent Wednesday blistering the governor’s efforts, putting the people of Kansas at risk of greater spread of the virus,” the editorial said. “Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle led the parade, further undercutting her own credibility and raising serious questions about her judgment. She called Kelly’s order ‘out of line, extreme,’ pronouncing it unconstitutional and a ‘blatant violation’ of religious rights.”
“Incredibly, she tried to turn the coronavirus dispute into another unnecessary, tiresome jeremiad against abortion,” the Star explained. “Yet what is pro-life about endangering the health of thousands of Kansans by overturning Kelly’s order?”
Another Republican demanded Kelly withdraw the order entirely. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, “in a breathtaking straddle, said Kelly’s order was ‘sound public health advice that Kansans should follow,’ yet also said law enforcement officials should not enforce it.”
The Star agreed it was an extraordinary measure but done in a time of extreme emergency and only after alternatives were attempted. Kansas, like the rest of the nation, face dangerous times.
“The prohibition on large church gatherings certainly would have been lifted when the coronavirus danger had subsided,” explained the Star. “That moment is not now. Now is the time for quiet prayer and reflection, and an effort by all Kansans to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Legislative Coordinating Committee endangered Kansans Wednesday. It prolonged the public health risk in our state. Its members should be ashamed, and its actions should be remembered.”
Republican LCC members Susan Wagle, Ron Ryckman, Jim Denning, Blaine Finch and Daniel Hawkins have not indicated that they’re willing to stake their reputation on their decision.
Read the full editorial at the Kansas City Star.