New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Big Apple’s religious community that fines and permanent closures may come their way if they refuse to stop worship services during the coronavrius pandemic.

Mr. de Blasio set himself up for some legal battles last week while addressing the health crisis.

“The NYPD, fire department, buildings department — everyone has been instructed that if they see worship services going on, they will go to the officials of that congregation, they’ll inform them they need to stop the services and disperse,” he said. “If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.”

The comments sparked outrage on social media and quickly spread to conservative websites.

“I don’t care how bad the Wuhan virus gets, there’s no legal authority for government officials to permanently shut down worship services,” Red State writer “Bonchie” replied over the weekend. “None at all. They can make requests and set guidelines, but it’s a gross violation of the Constitution to shut down the use of private property for religious services. There are some things that are more important than short term measures to fight a health crisis and religious freedom is one of those things.”

The Democrat argued that “no faith tradition endorses anything that endangers the members of that faith.”

“I’m sorry I have to tell you this, but anyone who’s hearing this, take it seriously. You’ve been warned, you need to stop services,” he said.

Life Site News noted, for example, that “strong Catholic leaders have pointed out that Mass is as essential as food and drink [for one’s eternal soul].”

Several dioceses have temporarily suspended public Masses as a result of the pandemic.

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