Mayor Jon Mitchell has made a decision to limit the number of people who are attending indoor religious services in New Bedford. His order is smart and safe.

The mayor of New Bedford is limiting church services to 100 people or 40 percent of the building's normal capacity, whichever figure is lower is the rule for the particular occasion.

I completely understand why some people are reflexively opposed to a government official limiting their ability to worship God in a church. I am here to tell you that the mayor isn't doing something outrageous and you have been operating like this for your whole life as a churchgoer.

A church is a building used by the public and it is subject to reasonable safety restrictions. If a church is designed to hold 500 people, you can't stuff 600 people into the church and claim the government is violating your rights as protected by the Constitution if they tell you to limit the service to 500 people.

The reasonable safety restrictions on the number of people in a building for religious or any other public purpose have been in place for generations. The safety restrictions are in place to protect the people in the church, not to curtail their ability to practice their faith.

The reality is that lots of people who are deeply involved with their church are also older people who are more likely to die from the COVID-19 virus than the present-day younger people.

If the mayor really was hostile to religious people, he wouldn't be trying to protect them.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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