In a series of cases over the past year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld then struck down COVID-19–related restrictions on worship in various states across the country. Those decisions clarified that, under the Free Exercise Clause, laws burdening religion aren't “generally applicable” when they treat religious conduct less favorably than comparable secular conduct. But they also relied on controversial claims that religious gatherings were comparable to places like grocery stores in their likelihood of spreading the virus. This article offers a different perspective. In addition to the rule about comparators, general applicability also contains a second rule. Where a law requires officials to consider the religious reasons for conduct as a precondition for regulating it, the law isn't generally applicable and ought to be subject to heightened scrutiny. The Court mostly passed over that requirement in the COVID-19 church-closure cases. But rightly understood, it may have provided an alternative path for resolving them—and one that didn't depend on controversial comparisons between churches and shopping centers. Instead, focusing on this second aspect of general applicability would have yielded a commonsense conclusion: where a law or policy grants favored treatment for activities it explicitly deems “essential,” “critical,” or “life-sustaining,” one of those things must be religion, absent compelling reason to the contrary. And understanding the rationale behind that conclusion provides important insights about the meaning of the Free Exercise Clause and several other issues at the heart of the First Amendment.