NYC Mayor Says Allowing Protests But Banning Church Gatherings Is ‘Apples And Oranges’ Situation

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is defending his decision to prevent people from attending religious services while allowing thousands of people to march arm-in-arm in the streets to protest police brutality.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the mayor has repeatedly said people should not leave their homes—even to express their own faith—to prevent the spread of the infectious disease.

The mayor has allowed, however, tens of thousands of people to loot businesses, vandalize property, and be outside to protest.

When asked by CNN about the double standard, de Blasio said comparing the situations was like comparing “apples and oranges.”

The Washington Examiner reports:

The mayor joined CNN for an interview Wednesday to discuss New York City’s ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic. During the discussion, CNN’s John Berman asked de Blasio to respond to a federal judge’s recent ruling that both the mayor and Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo violated the Constitution when they issued orders barring people of faith from gathering for worship and prayer services.

Berman said: “The court said you openly discouraged religious gatherings and threatened religious worshipers and sent a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.”

“Essentially saying that you treated the protesters who were on the streets differently than the religious gatherings that were on the streets. Your reaction?” he asked.

“No. Just wrong,” the mayor answered. “We worked with the religious leadership of this city for months.”

“The protests were an entirely different reality. [They were] a national phenomenon that was not something that the government could just say, you know, go away, something that really came from the grassroots. And, obviously, it had profound meaning, and we’re all acting on the meaning of those protests. But it’s really apples and oranges.”

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The Washington Examiner op-ed notes de Blasio “omitted the pertinent detail that the state left religious leaders with little choice.”

“It is fine if certain faith officials reportedly agree with de Blasio that closing their doors would be best for congregants, but do not lose sight of the fact that participation in church, synagogue, and mosque lockdowns was not exactly optional,” the op-ed continued.

And:

Just so we are all on the same page: Worship, prayer, funeral services, Easter, Ramadan, Passover, and more were deemed nonessential this year by de Blasio. Services everywhere were canceled because, according to elected officials, it would be too dangerous for people of faith to gather.

But the protests, which have seen thousands of people breaking every social distance guideline outlined by health care experts? Well, those are different, according to the mayor. Unlike faith, the protests are … important.