HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill Tuesday that protects religious organizations during states of emergency.

The Religious Freedom Bill means designated religious organizations are now considered essential during government shutdowns and will be able to operate during a crisis, such as COVID-19, when places of worship had to close their doors and resort virtual church or no church at all.

Pastor John Das of Revive Church of Forestbrook Road in Myrtle Beach said churches should be considered essential because they are a great way to get information out to people. He also said religious organizations are not separate from society in states like South Carolina because most people in the state are affiliated with religion.

“It’s not just the fact that we preach, we sing, and we clap our hands,” he said. “We have parking lots, we have facilities, we have places where if you need to bring the homeless or need to set up some sort of emergency trauma center, we can partner and not be enemies.”

The bill states that houses of worship, religious ministries, organizations, social agencies, groups, corporations, educational institutions, and other entities whose purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion are exempt from being shut down during a state of emergency.