Senator Calls for Administration to Immediately Reach Out to Religious Leaders to Develop Plan for Reopening Houses of Worship

The members of the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission were announced last week, and Senator Joe Pennacchio called the absence of a clergy representative a “glaring omission.”

“In times of crisis, residents turn to their faith for strength and comfort,” said Pennacchio. “There is growing pressure on the Administration to lift the prohibition on worship service gatherings. There should have been room on the commission for a representative from the clergy to ensure Constitutionally protected religious rights are upheld.”

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The 21-member commission, created by executive order, will hold virtual meetings and advise Governor Murphy on the reopening of nonessential businesses and the easing of stay-at-home orders.

“With the cooperation and sacrifice of residents across the state, we are making progress in containing the virus,” noted Senator Pennacchio. “The effort has taken a tremendous toll on residents, financially, emotionally and spiritually. As we approach another weekend where New Jersey citizens are denied their right to practice their faith, we question why no efforts have been made to allow citizens to reestablish their constitutional, God-given rights. The lack of clergy on the commission reinforces this disappointment. The Governor must pursue all options to safely allow the return to work and business, as well as the opening all places of worship.”