Can the government mandate attendance at religious services based on health concerns?

Courts have upheld bans on church attendance based on concerns about possible spread of COVID. The logic is that so long as the rules do not single out religious gatherings for bans, a plausible health benefit is sufficient to suspend the free exercise of religion and freedom of assembly guaranteed in the First Amendment.

My observation is that many studies have shown large long-term health benefits for regularly attending religious services. Here are some examples:

University of Saskatchewan found that the incidence of clinical depression was 22% lower among those who attended religious services at least once a month . . .

Those who go to church more than once a week enjoy even better health than those who attend only once a week. Overall, the reduction in mortality attributable to churchgoing is twenty-five percent – a huge amount in epidemiological studies.

Can the government likewise require regular attendance at a religious service so long as suitable secular alternatives are acceptable?

Courts have said that public health benefits trump constitutional protections related to free exercise of religion. Logically the same logic used to shut down services can be used to require attendance as well.

All the courts require is a plausible benefit. Unintended consequences that may more than offset the benefit do not need to be considered.

We may find that increased deaths from depression, suicide, drug overdoses, heart disease from weight gain and lack of exercise, etc. more than offset the alleged benefits of avoiding COVID infections, but those are irrelevant.

If serious, no.

If intended to elliptically make a point, what would it be?

The OP is a thought experiment. If the government can ban religious services because of health concerns, can it also mandate services or secular alternatives (weekly support groups, etc.) based on health concerns? Or is it a one-way street?

Is the right to refuse to participate greater than the rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of assembly?

If you can make the case that not attending church is a greater health threat (via depression) to an individual and everyone around them than attending in the middle of a pandemic, sure.

Some studies have found a large reduction in death rates from regular attendance at religious services:

β€œAfter adjustment for confounders, attendance at religious services had a dose-response relationship with mortality, such that respondents who attended frequently [i.e., at least once a week] had a 40 [percent] lower hazard of mortality […] compared with those who never attended.”

For comparison, there have been about 130,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the US. The number of deaths in the US is about 2.8 million per year, so COVID corresponds to about 10% change in death rates. Attendance at services has an effect that is about four times greater.

Is the government free to ban services based on concerns about spread of disease if it ignores the health benefits?

Is the threat from COVID-19 more immediate in terms of morbidity and strain on our medical resources than depression?

Is there anything to prevent the government from banning services indefinitely based on concerns about flu and other common contagious diseases even when COVID is gone?

The courts seem to be saying that suspending constitutional rights are okay so long as there is a plausible health benefit.

Is it plausible to think that once a virulent and potentially deadly infectious disease has been successfully curtailed through distancing measures that the government has no further justification to prevent public gatherings?

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