It's Good Friday, and to commemorate the mortal agonies of Jesus Christ, who took unto Himself the most hideous torture and death to atone for all the sins of humanity, the president of the United States offered a solemn message this morning:

And because this is a Christian Nation, a panel of the Republican-led Kansas state legislature decided Holy Week would be a great time to get all pissy about Gov. Laura Kelly's decision to include churches in her stay at home order banning gatherings of more than 10 people in one place. Kelly, a Democrat — yes, in Kansas, her opponent was Kris Kobach for gosh darn's sake — issued the order Tuesday, and Republicans on the Legislative Coordinating Council — a seven-member body that's doing legislative business while the full Lege is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak — voted Wednesday to overturn Kelly's order, because What About Religious Freedom. The vote was widely criticized as terrible and bad for public health, and now Kelly has sued to have the vote thrown out by the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kelly said in a news conference Thursday,

The last thing I want right now is a legal battle [...] But as I said yesterday, Kansas lives are on the line and I took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution.

The Republicans, meanwhile, are insisting that they really really do think the virus is a serious threat to public health, and that people should continue social distancing, and for that matter, that the state's churches should hold their Easter services online instead of in person. But there's a matter of principle here, and that principle is that Republicans have to insist they love Jesus more than the godless Democrats. Although they put that a little differently in their public statements, instead saying they merely want to make no decent churchgoing folks get "arrested for practicing their faith."



Under Kansas's emergency management law, the Lege has the power to revoke the governor's emergency orders, but Kelly's lawsuit argues that only the full Lege can do that, not the Legislative Coordinating Council.

Last month, the Legislature approved a concurrent resolution – not a law – giving the council the power to review and revoke her orders.

Kelly's attorneys argue that the Lege, in setting up the council to work in its place, had unconstitutionally tried to hand its authority to a body that has no legal standing, in violation of the state constitution.

Kelly's attorneys ask the justices to declare the resolution unconstitutional and for an order voiding the council's revocation. They also want the court to enjoin the council from taking any further action related to her emergency powers.

The attorneys ask for a quick ruling "with the utmost speed given the need to resolve this matter before the Easter Holiday" this Sunday.

The Republicans have mostly responded to the backlash against their vote by insisting they agree public health matters, but darn it, the governor went too far! And now they're "concerned and disappointed" that Kelly has sued, because whatever happened to working together to achieve a solution that everyone can be happy with? You know, like how they rushed to overturn her order to keep people safe from an epidemic so they could score points with the Religious Right by portraying Christians as a persecuted minority. State Rep. Ron Ryckman (R), the speaker of the state House, offered a load of bollocks to the Washington Post, explaining that his party certainly wasn't trying to encourage people to go pack into a church and endanger their health, heavens no!

Kelly's order, he argued, is "good public policy — it's just not constitutional."

"We're not willing to have someone's religious beliefs threatened," he said. "I don't think they should be attending group services during this pandemic, but I'm also not willing to have them go to jail for doing so."

He said he and the other Rs would support the order if Kelly would simply guarantee that no one would be prosecuted for violating it, but she simply wouldn't compromise. What a monster, that Democrat tyrant, threatening to throw Christians in jail for their beliefs.

The whole idiotic wingnut Passion Play drove Dr. Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to send out an angry tweet Wednesday, telling Kansans not to back off from good health practices just because Republicans wanted to pretend Kelly had declared War on Easter:

Norman discussed the holy mess further on Thursday's "Rachel Maddow Show," explaining this isn't about religious freedom, it's about saving lives, particularly since three clusters of COVID-19 cases in Kansas had been traced to church gatherings.

Political Fight Over Church Gatherings Risks Further Coronavirus Spread | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC www.youtube.com


The Wichita Eagle notes that the council's vote to revoke Kelly's order has created significant confusion, since it wasn't entirely clear if the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people remained in effect, or if the vote had only created an exemption for churches. Counties, for the most part, have been acting as if the full stay-home order is in effect; officials in Johnson County and Sedgwick County, just to be on the safe side, said that even if the statewide order had been rescinded, the counties' own bans on public gatherings remained in place.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Meitzner went a little farther and said that while most churches were already complying by livestreaming their services, nobody should panic about cops busting heads at an Easter service:

So far, he said, there have not been any law enforcement sent to churches to break up services.

If law enforcement were to show up, they would focus on educating and not enforcing the order.

"There's a lot of reasoning that can happen," he said. "We're kind of a Christian-based community anyways, and I'm hoping everyone is OK with that."

Yr Wonkette wondered whether the loonies at Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church were complying with the no-church-meetings order, and you'll all be glad to know the loonies are complying with it. and that Westboro won't be canceling Easter services because the God Hates Fags crowd believes Easter is "pagan idolatry" anyway. Ben Phelps, grandson of the church's late founder, Fred Phelps, explained to Kansas City magazine:

Jesus told us how to remember Him, and it is by the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. Not with bunnies, eggs, or other silliness. So we will not be celebrating Easter, either in person or virtually.

As for Kelly's public health order, Phelps is good with that too, since the Bible says God set up civil authorities, and as long as it doesn't involve people fucking in a way that's an abomination before God, the order is lawful. Also, you're all going to Hell, the end.

[Wichita Eagle / WaPo / Kansas City]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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