RALEIGH — The N.C. Sheriffs Association passed a resolution today asking Gov. Roy Cooper to amend his executive order to allow indoor worship services.
The resolution was the result of a unanimous vote of the law enforcement group’s executive committee. In a phone conversation with North State Journal, Sheriffs’ Association Executive Vice President and General Counsel Eddie Caldwell said the vote was taken by the groups leadership but was not put to a vote of all 100 sheriffs in N.C.
Stanly County Sheriff Jeff Crisco confirmed to NSJ that the group held a conference call with 11 of the 12 executive committee members and approximately six other sheriffs on Friday to discuss the resolution. Crisco said he had not yet seen the final version but believed there was broad support for the action among his colleagues across the state.
The resolution states that the restrictions in Cooper’s Executive Order No. 138 are “significantly more restrictive than the restrictions in Executive Order No. 138 on ‘Retail Businesses.'”
The sheriffs said they believe that “the restrictions and recommended guidelines that apply to persons who gather to worship should be no more stringent than those that apply to businesses that are allowed to remain open.”
Cooper’s order had acknowledged that worship and other “First Amendment activities” — which he did not define — were not included in the definition of mass gatherings but it went on to say that those activities had to be outside unless holding them outside was “impossible.”
The sheriffs said that “many citizens have told sheriffs that they do not understand or agree with the Governor’s limits on worship services that are more restrictive than … limits on businesses ….”
The group asked the governor to “amend Executive Order No. 138 to provide that indoor worship services are not prohibited by Executive Order No. 138 if they adhere to similar requirements that allow for the operation of retail businesses.”
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This article was corrected to clarify that not all sheriffs were on the conference call.