UPDATED: Socially-Distanced NC Men Arrested for Praying Outside Abortion Clinic

‘Not even in communist China would police arrest three men for walking and praying on the street…’

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Guilford County, which includes the city of Greensboro, N.C., issued a stay-at-home order on Friday in response to the Wuhan virus pandemic — and set up for the public an online complaint form for busybodies to snitch on neighbors and businesses, WFMY News 2 reported.

An officer with the Greensboro Police Department enforced the county’s order on Saturday.

The officer arrested three men and issued a citation to another who were praying outside of an abortion clinic in Greensboro, the News & Record reported. Then on Monday, seven people praying at the clinic were reportedly arrested for violating the order:

On Saturday the men, who belong to the Charlotte-area Love Life group, were streaming to Facebook when the officer approached them. He told them to return to their vehicles, but they refused.

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The men said they were adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The stay-at-home order only allows for “essential travel,” but local authorities determine the meaning of the phrase, which did not include First Amendment exemptions as “essential.”

Still, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has allowed the state’s abortion clinics to fall under the “essential” business category during the Wuhan virus pandemic. He has also kept open the state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) Stores, which are the only licensed sellers of liquor harder than beer and wine.

The North Carolina Values Coalition commented on the men’s arrest in a press release.

“The North Carolina Values condemns the actions of Greensboro police for arresting Christians who peacefully and legally pray and exercise their religious rights on the sidewalks outside an abortion clinic. Not even in communist China would police arrest three men for walking and praying on the street,” said Jim Quick, State Director of Grassroots & Media at North Carolina Values Coalition.

“Since Governor Cooper refused to close abortion clinics as part of his administration’s order to cease elective medical procedures these men were simply exercising their constitutional rights to pray outside one of the clinics that remain open,” he said.

“Abortion is an elective procedure and Governor Cooper should have closed abortion clinics and urged abortion providers to donate their PPE and other equipment to coronavirus response, just as he did with hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers that perform elective procedures,” Quick concluded.

This article has been updated with information about the Monday arrests.