Reeves urges pastors to cancel Easter services, but will not mandate it

Published: Apr. 8, 2020 at 2:25 PM CDT
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Gov. Tate Reeves held his daily press conference about the state's efforts to slow spread of the coronavirus.

The governor opened the press conference by explaining why he has not ordered churches to stop holding services.

Reeves said despite pressure from the general public, he will not shut down churches, even though he believes they should not meet because of the virus.

“The government does not have the right to shut down places of worship,” he said. “If you start taking people’s rights away, very rarely does the government ever give them back to them.”

Reeves is calling on pastors to not hold Easter Sunday services, but will not enforce a rule.

“Mississippi is not China, and it never will be,” Reeves said.

Bishop Stanley Searcy is one pastor who planned to continue holding services. He said he feels it is his constitutional right to do so. He thanked Reeves for listening to his side, but ultimately decided to cancel services at Governor Reeves’ suggestion.

Reeves said he will make a determination on schools’ status by Tuesday. He said planners will look at the trends and make a decision.

State Health Officer Dr. Paul Byers said despite less positive cases coming out, it’s too early to say the problem is getting better.

Reeves urged Mississippians to give blood if they are able due to a statewide blood shortage.