COVID-1984 and Kansas City, MO

According to Liberty Counsel, the government of Kansas City, MO, requires churches to submit a list of members – with names, addresses and phone numbers – for tracking and surveillance purposes.

Anyone who does not give this information is to be refused entrance to the church!

I’m not a lawyer, but I cannot fathom how this is legal to require under the Constitution.

That said, I recently wrote a post about how chanceries send out documents that have nothing to do with canon or liturgical law, but are phrased in such a way that the less-than-careful reader assumes that they do.

In other words, let’s throw this spaghetti against the wall and see how much will stick.

As we deal longer and longer with this COVID-19(84) thing, and the “planned-demic”, we see that some in government are revealing their inner darkness.

Lord Acton, of “Power corrupts” fame, might have been teased into saying, had he lived now,

“Power attracts the corruptible”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. FrAnt says:

    Marxist Liberal forces do this all of the time. Through something out there and see what sticks. And if it doesn’t stick, move on to the next talking point. We’ve seen this with the Russian hoax, the impeachment, and now Trump didn’t do enough, and people died.
    I have been reading the article on Palm Sunday over at the New Liturgical Movement (Bugnini on the Reform of Palm Sunday, by Gregory Dipippo). What Bugnini and Braga did was not entirely different. They said certain parts of the Palm Sunday Procession were irrelevant for today’s sensibilities, so let’s change it. Sadly, it stuck. And they moved on.

  2. APX says:

    I notice it doesn’t say a list of correct information. I could give them an old address and an old phone number to track. But seriously, this is creepy.

  3. Yes, this is blatantly unconstitutional, and our bishops need to denounce these measures from the rooftops.

  4. Ave Maria says:

    Separation of Church and state? The churches should NOT comply and leaders need to stand up against this. What, should all Christians wear a yellow cross on their sleeve now? The Jews again wear the yellow star? Etc.? This is persecution and can only lead to more.

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    It’s posted officially now at stores how many people can be in the store. 55 of us can attend Capitol Square Walgreen’s in Madison simultaneously. But only 9 including the priest can attend spacious St Patrick’s church 2 blocks away (Bp Hying’s pro-Cathedral). Why can’t we sue (I understand the reason may be because of picking our fights carefully)? Apparently in the same Kansas City a judge found in mid April that the 10 person limit on church attendance must not be enforced. Was that what spurred government officials’ anxiety that led to the overreaching idea that churches need to collect names and addresses for the civil authorities?

    Does Kansas City collect names and addresses of those who enter drug stores and grocery stores there, for coronavirus tracking purposes?

    By the way I am grateful for those priests who are allowing small numbers of faithful to attend Mass. However it’s clear the Eucharist is not meant to be rationed and the civil autgorities dictating this can’t be tolerated for long, let alone allowed to recur repeatedly.

  6. LeeGilbert says:

    The other evening Tucker Carlson also noted the irony that in fighting the Wuhan flu we have quickly adopted the ethos of a totalitarian regime, in fact, of the Chinese Communists. The media, especially big tech, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook, have been quick to adopt and to relentlessly push the “party line” complete with massive suppression of dissent. A wind blew in from the Pacific and swept away in less than two months the ethos, customs and traditions that made this country what it is, or was. Freedom of religious expression? Suspended without opposition. Freedom of association. Gone. Immediately we are dependent for survival on the largesse of government: our version of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” Wasn’t that the mantra of Karl Marx?

    Against this argument comes the rationale from Catholic moral theologians that duly elected authorities have issued lawful orders and that we are obliged to obey. But in the United States this is not so cut and dried as it might have been in a monarchy. In witness whereof Atty General Wm. Barr is in fact questioning just how lawful these edicts are. In the face of a legitimate threat, such edicts are lawful, but when there is a question of how serious the threat actually is, the edict itself is questionable. And Carlson’s point is that we are not being allowed to question the necessity of these orders, that substantial arguments for dissent are being deleted from public discourse. And that is in itself an insufferable insult to our republic, besides being sufficient motivation for resistance.

    Unquestioned, blind obedience is not and can never be the American way. There is a civic, patriotic duty to question all this business, and it is a duty that lies particularly heavily on our bishops given the fact that our spiritual lives are being jeopardized. Of course, on the one hand we have the duty to obey civic authority, but that is not the only operative authority for Catholics. Is government policy crushing the little guy, then there is a duty to speak up, and the little guy is being crushed. In so much reading I have done by the Catholic intelligentia, I see fault for our present circumstance often laid at the feet of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Yet in my reading connected with publishing Rance’ I see again and again how the Church was subservient to the state. The French people of the 18th c. were not grateful, you could say. And now, when the Church could speak up forcefully for the unemployed, small shop owners, the little guy, (and her own people, for that matter) etc, she maintains a decorous and politic silence. Check out Carlson’s commentary on April 28th to see whether this silence is warranted. For a death rate of something like .035 percent we should remain shut down, spiritually and economically impoverished?

  7. Bos Mutissimus says:

    I’m not unduly skeptical when I say this warrants a bit more investigation. I live in KC, and well, I’m from Missouri (i.e., Show Me). The Liberty Counsel blog doesn’t provide any specifics and only one source (phone call purportedly from the area) – while also asking for contributions. A google search reveals some dubious youtube videos that cite “headlines” of unknown source and believes it specifically requires the registration for purposes of surveillance. I checked with our local parish, and although the Bp. has issued re-opening guidelines to the parish, there is no date yet, nor any mention of the requirement for parish staff to register anyone with the city. IF it’s true, it’s an egregious 1st Amendment violation, but – IS it true? Prayer, vigilance and more details are needed.

    Semper Fidelis

  8. Joe says:

    I am a lawyer and the foregoing is a violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

  9. Joe says:

    The city is violating the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

  10. tho says:

    Our weak kneed prelates have really let us down. Distancing should be a suggestion, avoiding large crowds is also a suggestion, but using the law to control us smacks of totalitarianism. We cherish our liberty, even at the risk of bodily harm. The media is aiding and abetting the politicians in this heavy handed attempt to curtail our freedoms. We are a free people, let us decide what risk we want to take.

  11. As Joe says, this is absolutely a frontal assault on the Free Exercise Clause, the value of which, contrary to guarantees, appears to be zero in a secularized culture.

    Let us also not forget the Peaceable Assembly Clause. We seem to have forgotten the value of this right. It is a mark of tyrannical regimes that their citizens are atomized, isolated, trained to distrust one another and forbidden to gather in groups for the pursuit of common interests. Does anyone remember Tienanmen Square? This is why the Founding Fathers also thought the right of peaceable assembly important enough to put in the First Amendment.

  12. I will try not to write too much here except to say that I am absolutely livid at the tyrranical, indefensible, reprehensible conduct of almost all of our elected officials as well as the almost complete lack of resistance by our bishops. The anti-social conduct by the executive branch of government in every state must be investigated by the legislative branch as well as by state attorneys general and local district attorneys, and strict measures to prevent its recurrence must be implemented– including revisions of state constitutions with provisions for immediate, permanent removal from office of transgressors– while we still have a shred of freedom left. If we don’t defend freedom– now, when we are most under threat– we will lose it. The pandemic cannot be used as an excuse for us to allow governors, mayors, and other politicians to become dictators.

  13. CasaSanBruno says:

    I prefer my worship like the Left prefers it’s immigrants: undocumented.

  14. Charles Sercer says:

    Exactly this. If I am going into any “hysteria,” is is 100% about our government’s, and church’s, actions, and 0% about this coronavirus.

  15. Charles Sercer says:

    Thank you for posting this – same here; it is not that I am “unduly skeptical” but I also live in KC, and could not find anything about this in a google search except the liberty counsel blog and this blog.

    It is absolutely INSANE if it is in fact true.

  16. Josephus Corvus says:

    I must say I am impressed on how fast they acted. I knew something was coming, but the speed amazes me. The Wuhan Virus response was test case to see if the government can get the religious leaders to give up their rights. Unfortunately, every single one of them rolled over, so the powers that be decided to make quick work of the next steps.

  17. Joy1985 says:

    Lord have mercy on us and on the whole world.

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    From the Kansas City MO “KCMO Reopens FAQ”:

    “In-person religious gatherings (including weddings and funerals) may resume, subject to the 10/10/10 rule (if held inside) or limited to 50 people outside, provided social distancing precautions are followed and event organizers maintain records of all attendees.”

    “All data obtained by the Department of Public Health will remain confidential and will be used only to address public health concerns and contact individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. [SG here: “contact tracing”]

    “How long must businesses keep records?
    A minimum of 30 days.”

    The “KCMO Reopens FAQ” expands on the Fourth Amended Order 20-01, signed 30 April 2020, by Quinton Lucas, Mayor. (Link to this PDF document at top of FAQ).

    Religious services are addressed in: “Section Two, Other Non-essential Operations, H.” Two H also states that “Data obtained by the Department of Public Health…may be used only to address public health concerns.”

    Section Three, A, 1, vi: “Essential Activities do not include weddings, funerals, wakes, memorial services or similar gatherings.” Section Three, A, 2 lists Essential Activities such as Grocery Stores, Media and Dry Cleaners.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” – Amendment I

    “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” – Amendment XIV

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  20. Anneliese says:

    Wouldn’t the city or counties itself have issued an actual court order? Kansas City, MO covers 4 different counties. My dad lived in Clay County, which is one of the four. Considering most of the churches in the area are Protestant, I highly doubt the pastors would comply, especially in the megachurches. Now if the website said New York City, then I probably wouldn’t hesitate to believe that. From what I’ve read recently, the mayor’s office is going off the rails.

  21. Nell says:

    Kansas City is not requiring churches to “submit a list of members” — they are to “maintain records of all attendees” at a particular service, and to hold onto those records for a minimum of 30 days after that particular service.

  22. Semper Gumby says:

    Nell: Consider the Who, How and Where of creating and maintaining the records. Consider the impact on not only parishioners but potential parishioners. Also, consider actual people, their motivations and likely near-future events that expand access to those records. Then, read Sections Five, Six, Seven and Eight (each Section is one paragraph) of Fourth Amended Order 20-01. Cheers.

  23. Hidden One says:

    Mass Attendance Report from the Venerable Pastor of St. Anonymous the Wise:

    So at yesterday’s outdoor Mass for the Feast of St. Athanasius, that great role model in these challenging times, there were, I think, five people in knit sweaters, perhaps ten in t-shirts, and roughly 15 in hoodies, and seven or eight wearing jackets (not sure if anyone took off or put on jackets during the service because I was facing east for most of it and they were all west of me…); none of them spontaneously announced their gender self-identification, so no idea if they were men or women (or not) for government purposes, and of course I would never guess at a lady’s age… they were all wearing masks anyway, so I couldn’t really be sure if I recognized any of them or not… they all left before the end of the seventeenth verse of the recessional hymn so I couldn’t ask their names after Mass… truth be told, I had my reading glasses on the whole time, so I’m really just guessing about their numbers and attire, and none of them sang anything loud enough for me to hear without my hearing aids in, so I couldn’t count them that way….

  24. Sportsfan says:

    KC official to traditional priest, ” I need the names of the of the ten people at mass.”

    Father, ” McGillicutty.”

    KC official, “That’s it?”

    Father, “Yes, I can’t remember which one’s drew the short straw and had to stay home. I get them confused.”

    KC official,” Who organized this mass?”

    Father, “The council of Trent.”

    KC official,” Who is in charge of this council?”

    Father, ” Pius IV is the most recent.”

    KC official, ” Can I speak with him?”

    Father,” Sure, any time, I’ll get you a votive.”

  25. Kathleen10 says:

    Anybody else feeling extremely confused about whether or not we have been seriously played by someone with this whole Covid thing? I have followed Covid since January in Wuhan, and I am more stymied about what we have than when it started. I see intelligent, trustworthy people arguing both sides. Is it a killer virus? Is it a total hoax. I don’t know and I think many don’t know. But we have to know!
    I’m fatigued, I admit it, and one of the things that has wore me out is the church. How can I say this. I have completely gone beyond expecting anything from the church, nothing helpful, nothing supportive, too much, too little, too damn late. I expect nothing, and now I am rarely disappointed. I’m sorry if that’s not optimistic, but that’s how I feel and I feel we are at least entitled to say how we feel if nothing else in this world.
    As far as liberty, we better get up off the couch and defend it, because actions like this one here are a direct threat to it. I have no hesitation in saying that most Americans will fight like heck against tyranny, once IDENTIFIED. This type of action is a clear violation of our Constitutional rights, as is paying any “fine” for gathering on a beach or in a park, etc. Hell no! Don’t pay that fine, fight it! We must never cooperate with tyranny, EVER. I’m a grandmother, and I won’t, so you shouldn’t. The Patriots of the American Revolution is in the veins of many Americans, and all the military sacrifices made over generations demands we grab that torch and keep it lit. Give in to two-bit dictators and Democrats? Absolutely NOT.
    God help and bless all here.

  26. Kathleen10 says:

    I should add that Attorney General Barr said he wanted to know about this type of government tyranny and over-reach, because the AG office may be filing charges in the future. Someone needs to inform their office of this type of obvious invasion of privacy and intrusion into our religious freedom and Constitutional rights.

  27. AA Cunningham says:

    Will any Bishop stand up to this unlawful nonsense and call their bluff? From all the capitulating to secular authorities that we’ve been witnessing up until now the answer is a definite no.

  28. Semper Gumby says:

    Kathleen10: Here’s a link to a 28 April article.

    “AG Barr Pushes Back on Violations of Civil Liberties”

    By “pushback” perhaps the reporter meant: “several actions proceeding in a legal, calm and methodical manner.”

    In the article there is a link to a 27 April DoJ memorandum (2-page PDF) from AG Barr. It closes with:

    “Many policies that would be unthinkable in regular times have become commonplace in
    recent weeks, and we do not want to unduly interfere with the important efforts of state and local
    officials to protect the public. But the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis. We must
    therefore be vigilant to ensure its protections are preserved, at the same time that the public is
    I thank you for your attention to this important initiative and for your service to our country.”

    In AG Barr’s memo there is a reference to “Matthew Schneider; the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.” Coincidentally, the Governor of Michigan has addressed the Wuhan Virus situation with an over-abundance of enthusiasm.

    Which recalls a humorous piece at the Babylon Bee:

  29. Semper Gumby says:

    Anneliese wrote: “Now if the website said New York City, then I probably wouldn’t hesitate to believe that. From what I’ve read recently, the mayor’s office is going off the rails.”

    You are correct, Ma’am.

    The intrepid souls at the Babylon Bee are on the case:

  30. Nell says: Kansas City is not requiring churches to “submit a list of members” — they are to “maintain records of all attendees” at a particular service, and to hold onto those records for a minimum of 30 days after that particular service.

    Still unconstitutional.

  31. Kerry says:

    Kathleen 10, yes. Sometimes I wonder a bit. However, may I recommend you listen to Dan Burke, the former president of EWTN News, speaking with Henry Weston of Life Site News. Mr. Burke survived great darkness during his illness from the virus, becoming convinced “…the laity need to repent of their sacriligeous Communion in the hand.” And he has other things to say. Here:
    Pax Christi.

  32. Semper Gumby says:

    CasaSanBruno: *chuckle*

    HiddenOne and Sportsfan: Excellent.

    If I find myself in the dusty yet fair cattle town of Kansas City, gateway to the Great Plains, I intend to answer the Mayor’s query of “Who are you? Identify yourself!” thusly:

    “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius.

    “I rowed a galley at Lepanto, held the line at Tours, and stood at the gates of Vienna against the Turks. I will go in to the altar of God, to God who gave joy to my youth. And you, Mayor, will learn that God is Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen, in this life or the next.”

  33. The Masked Chicken says:

    Just some comments to add to the discussion, in no particular order (and you may want to shout me down on this because some of these comments are a bit contrarian, but be kind):

    1. Lee Gilbert: who told to the death rate is .035 percent?? There is NO good science to support that statistic. The Stanford serological study was flawed, which is ironic, since John Ioannidis is a legend in the field of medical research rigor. The correct value may be, based on converging research, about .5 percent or 5 times deadlier than the flu. This is much less than the 4.3 percent estimate a few weeks ago for the U.S., but it is, still, significant.

    2. It is not distance only that causes this disease spread, but contact time. The longer people are close together, the likelier disease transmission is. One reason they might not be taking names at supermarkets is because people are in constant, random motion, whereas at church services, they are, relatively, frozen in place, thus, increasing the likelihood of disease transmission. For such cases, contact tracing is important.

    3. That being said, if anything they are not overreaching with churches, they are underreaching with other communal activities. If contact tracing of confined groups really is their goal (I am hypothesizing this and not more sinister anti-religious motives), then they should do this for concerts, ballet recitals, sports events, etc. Unless they apply this uniformly to all gatherings, then I can see a very clear argument for targeting religious gatherings only, in which case, filing for an injunction is something that should be done, immediately.

    4. As to the Constitutional arguments, this gets tricky from both an historical and Catholic point of view. The Founding Fathers wrote the document in 1787, about 100 years before the germ theory of disease was accepted. Back then, the prevailing theory was, “bad air.” We don’t know how they might have modified the Peaceable Assembly amendment had they had a better understanding of disease transmission. Maybe they would not have. We don’t have a time machine to ask them. That this has not been addressed at a federal level in light of the 1918 Spanish flu might be because transmission was seen more as a local problem, back then.

    5. Since the purpose of any government, from a Catholic perspective (from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Aquinas and Law):

    “The definition of law offered by Aquinas in ST I-II q. 90 a. 4 is: “an ordinance of reason for the common good of a [complete] community, promulgated by the person or body responsible for looking after that community.” It is by being intended for common good that law appeals to its subjects’ reason, and gives them reason for regarding the law as authoritative and obligatory, morally as well as legally. Even when its subjects or some of them would have made or preferred a different determinatio, a different way of pursuing communal benefit, the rulers’ intent to promote common good supports and is supported by their claim to rulership. Only if they have such intent can they instantiate the central case of government.”

    The common good is a complex matter in this case, but the same general principles of social distancing, etc., would still apply if this were a bioterrorist attack and not a natural one and few would question government authority to govern assembly for the common good in the former case. There is no inconsistency with Catholic teaching, in this case, even if some people have a different determinatio as to how we should proceed.

    6. That being said, how dare they define religious services as non-essential!! Social distancing is reasonable, but defining religion as non-essential is stupid. As Dr. Malchahey from M. A. S. H. put it to Hawkeye: “When you lose a patient, you lose a body; when I lose a patient, I lose a soul.”

    7. The city should be taken to court. They don’t get to define essential services in every case. Divine Law supersedes their authority.

    The Chicken

  34. The Masked Chicken says:

    That should be Fr. Malchahey. Me or auto-correct? Don’t know the source of the mistake (probably,me).

    The Chicken

  35. Lusp says:

    In spite of the insanity of the local KCMO government, I think we should commend His Excellency, Bishop Johnston, for allowing Masses again. FYI you can go to Mass in some of the surrounding counties without having to give your name and contact info. Yes the diocese could do more to fight the local government, but Bishop Johnston has done more than most bishops by opening the churches again.

  36. Elizabeth D says:

    Dane County (where Madison is) is down to 15 Covid-19 inpatients (out of population of 550k) and just two in the ICU. It’s time for the Diocese of Madison to truly re-open (carefully).

  37. Chicken: Fr. John Patrick Mulcahy, SJ (Got to have a token Irish priest, right?)

    (Obligatory Fordham links; Alan Alda, Thad Mumford and a couple of the minor writers were graduates, multiple mentions of the hellish Jesuit university a constant thread through the show arc, and the Mulcahy family was a big contributor to the university, the chem building was named after one of the more beneficent. And not to forget that Fr. M was an admitted Jesuit…which probably explained his somewhat amorphous expressions of various beliefs in the show scripts…:))

  38. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Brian Boyle,

    I was afraid I misspelled the good Father’s name, but my phone was running out of charge, so I didn’t have time to look it up :(

    The Chicken

  39. Semper Gumby says:

    Masked Chicken: Two observations.

    “There is NO good science to support that statistic.”

    Given that various regimes and media outlets are messing with the numbers, it’s possible Covid-19 statistics will always be dubious. Then there are certain “scientists” such as the infamous Neil Ferguson.

    “…general principles of social distancing, etc., would still apply if this were a bioterrorist attack and not a natural one…”

    There’s a third possibility: a combination of the two.

    Good quote from MASH.

  40. Semper Gumby says:

    LeeGilbert: Speaking of the Enlightenment, here’s an article from New Criterion. Gertrude Himmelfarb sees not an “Enlightenment” but British, French and American Enlightenment.

    “For a death rate of something like .035 percent we should remain shut down, spiritually and economically impoverished?”

    There are prudent yet uncomfortable precautions. There are also some politicians, scientists, journalists and others who live by “don’t let a crisis go to waste.”

  41. Semper Gumby says:


    “Unquestioned, blind obedience is not and can never be the American way.” Doggone right.

    Speaking of the Enlightenment, an article from New Criterion about Gertrude Himmelfarb and not one “Enlightenment” but the British, French and American Enlightenments.

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