Johnston County sheriff won’t ‘interfere or prevent’ churchgoers from assembling

Johnston County News

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell is pushing back against the Governor’s order, barring churches from having indoor services with more than 10 people.

Bizzell has been the face of Johnston County law enforcement for 22 years.

In a statement, Bizzell said he would lay down his badge and go home before stopping the citizens of the county from assembling for an indoor church service.

Read the sheriff’s letter

He wrote, “the deputies and I took an oath that we would endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution. As long as I’m Sheriff, my deputies nor I will forgo that oath and interfere or prevent churchgoers to peaceably assemble. Before I would do that I would lay down my badge and go home.”

“I prefer indoor church services,” Emma Horne with Sami’s Pizza and Pasta said.

Horne agrees with the Sheriff’s decision.

“The church is the people within the church that’s what makes it a church,” Horne explained.

A couple blocks down at the Oak City Collection, Jud Patterson see’s it differently.

“I don’t know if people will follow the rules or not,” Patterson said.

He points our some outbreaks of COVID-19 were traced back to church services that occurred at the start of the pandemic.

Sheriff Bizzell had signed onto a resolution the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association sent to the Governor. It asked that the order be amended to allow churches to operate like retail businesses. The Governor responded, saying where it was not possible to conduct worship services outdoors or through other accommodations, the ten person limit would not apply.

CBS 17 plans to sit down with Sheriff Bizzell Thursday.

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