Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL running back Herschel Walker took to Twitter last week to express his disapproval of restrictions on worship gatherings that have been implemented by some states and localities to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
“We keep hearing the importance of Freedom of Speech.. but let’s not forget we have Freedom of Religion,” Walker wrote in a tweet accompanying a 32-second video. “Never give up our right to worship! If we can protest, we can get back to Church!”
The 58-year-old weighed in on what some consider a First Amendment double standard. While many state and local governments have enacted restrictions on worship gatherings during the pandemic, some officeholders have supported and even joined ongoing protests and marches after the death of African American George Floyd in police custody on Memorial Day.
“I just saw that the First Amendment — freedom of speech — and people are protesting,” Walker said. “You know, peaceful or not peaceful. But I also saw that we have the freedom of religion.”
“Why are we not going to church?” he continued. “Why are we not fighting to go to church? You know, we can do peaceful church outside. Think about it.”
Over the past several months, as the United States has endured unprecedented economic lockdowns and racial unrest, Walker has established himself as a strong supporter of President Donald Trump and a harsh critic of the coronavirus lockdowns and “cancel culture.”
On May 23, the former University of Georgia standout tweeted that “[i]t’s time for us to reform this lockdown.”
“I’d rather go down standing up trying to save my company, than be on my knees begging the government for a handout,” he wrote.
In a July 3 tweet, Walker declared that he doesn’t want to see police departments defunded or see statues torn down.
Walker also came to the defense of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees earlier this year after Brees was criticized for saying that he would "never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America."
"You know, just because he doesn't believe in what you believe in, why is people upset about that?" Walker said in a radio interview with Glenn Beck. "That's what is great about America, is we have a right to choose. And if that's the way he feels, it's okay that he feels like that."
The former Dallas Cowboy spoke about his relationship with Trump in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this year.
While Walker appeared as a contestant on Trump’s former reality TV show, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the two have a friendship that goes back decades.
“Oh yeah, we’re still close,” Walker said. “We always talk. He appointed me a little position there in Washington with the president’s council and [with] Health and Human Services. So, we’ve still got a very, very good relationship. I’ve changed a little bit of how that council’s run and trying to get us more involved, so we can change some things in Washington.”
Walker has also argued that college football should proceed as scheduled despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COLLEGE FOOTBALL…please please please take the politics out of sports and let these guys PLAY!!” he wrote in a tweet Monday. “We can put safety protocols in place but America needs to cheer!”
President Trump sent out a similar tweet Monday stating that student-athletes “have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled.”
Walker and Trump’s tweets about college football came a day before the Big Ten Conference, a major collegiate athletic conference, announced that it would postpone all fall sports, including football.
Walker is hardly the only public figure to express discontent with the restrictions on worship services that have been implemented as a result of the coronavirus pandemic as several churches nationwide have filed lawsuits against state and local gathering restrictions.
Evangelist Sean Feucht has held multiple “Let Us Worship” events at outdoor locations across the country that have been attended by thousands. The events are part of an effort to enable a “return to the simplicity, to the power of the raw Gospel” as coronavirus restrictions mean that “we can’t be in our churches.”
Some religious leaders have openly defied the restrictions on religious services, with John MacArthur and other California pastors electing to hold worship services despite a state order prohibiting indoor services in certain counties.
MacArthur has spoken about “intentional discrimination” by government officials “against biblical Christianity and the church.”