New law protects in-person worship during public emergencies

STATEHOUSE – Legislation supported by State Rep. Chris May (R-Bedford) protecting Hoosiers’ right to gather for religious worship services during future public emergencies is now law.

State Rep. Chris May

During the early months of the pandemic, in-person religious services were prohibited, which May said cut constituents off from critical services and connections. This new law prohibits the state or other government bodies from restricting the right to worship in-person, classifying religious gatherings as essential. May said other religious activities like food pantries, daycare or school services can also not be more restricted than other essential services.

“Places of worship offer healing and strength, and they are a critical source for a lot of people in need,” May said. “We must ensure Hoosiers can worship in-person and connect to essential services without the government impeding.”

Americans’ mental health in 2020 was worse than at any point in the last two decades, according to an annual Gallup poll. Frequent church attendees showed the least change in their mental health ratings, which May said is a strong sign that religious institutions are vital to society.

Senate Enrolled Act 263 is effective July 1, 2021. Visit for more information.