Those comparisons are inapt. Government discriminates illicitly when it fails to treat like cases alike. One needn’t discount people’s spiritual needs to recognize that liquor stores, bike shops, groceries and pet shops differ from churches, synagogues and mosques with respect to public health. The risk of coronaviral spread is not merely a function of the number of people at a venue; it increases dramatically as they linger in a stationary position, especially when they speak or sing.
Though religious gatherings face greater restrictions than less risky activities like shopping, they are actually treated more favorably than comparably risky secular activities, such as public lectures, concerts and theatrical performances — as the trial judge in the Roman Catholic Diocese case observed. For the Supreme Court’s new and extremely conservative majority, it seems, failure to sufficiently discriminate in favor of religion counts as discrimination against religion.