Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Church Challenges To COVID-19 Orders Proliferate

Suits challenging COVID-19 orders that ban group church services are proliferating.  Sacramento Bee reported yesterday:
A group of Inland Empire pastors is suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom in federal court, alleging that his administration is “criminalizing the free exercise of religion” with stay-at-home directives that have prevented people from attending church services....
One of the plaintiffs is Dean Moffatt, a Riverside County pastor who was fined $1,000 for holding a Palm Sunday church service, according to the complaint filed.
KRQE News reported yesterday:
An Albuquerque [New Mexico] megachurch is now suing the state claiming the governor violated the first amendment that protects the freedom of religion. Specifically, it’s focused on the church’s Easter Sunday service and the number of people it takes to live stream to its congregation....
[Pastor Steve] Smothermon of Legacy Church filed suit requesting a temporary restraining order but also a permanent injunction affording them the same restrictions as local essential retailers, limiting capacity to 20%. Smothermon says to hold yesterday’s service they would have a worship team, a band, the pastor and technical staff. A group of about 30 people. Therefore, conducting the live-streamed services would immediately violate the governor’s order to limit gatherings to no more than five people.

WAVE News reported yesterday:
 A Kentucky church whose members defied Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order not to gather in groups now plans to file a federal lawsuit claiming its constitutional rights were violated.
The Maryville Baptist Church is at the center of the debate, after about 50 members attended an Easter service in person.
Kentucky State Police troopers were ordered to take down the license plates of those who attended, threatening to quarantine them.
The church’s attorney, Matthew Staver, said the lawsuit is because the church was targeted.