A non-profit legal organization filed lawsuits against the governor of Kansas and the city of Chattanooga over orders that allegedly single out places of worship in their effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Alliance Defending Freedom will represent two Kansas churches in a federal suit against Gov. Laura Kelly over a shelter-in-place order that “singles out churches from holding gatherings of 10 or more people while allowing numerous secular gathering that exceed that number,” according to a press release obtained by ToddStarnes.com.
The legal group also filed a suit against the city of Chattanooga and its mayor for tailoring “its COVID-19 restrictions to a statewide order that allows for drive-in church services” but then reversing course to specifically prohibit them.
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KSN.com reported that two Kansas pastors, Stephen Ormond and Aaron Harris, are calling on the court to enter a permanent injunction that blocks part of executive order 20-18 that limits these gatherings to less than 10 people.
The report pointed out that churches were, at first, exempt from the order, but the governor included them after 19 outbreaks in the state were linked to these services.
“We are reviewing the complaint, which we received after close of business today,” a spokesman from her office, told the station. The spokesman has insisted that the order is not intended to restrict religion, it is intended to keep residents safe.
The legal group is also representing the Metropolitan Tabernacle Church and Pastor William Ball in a suit against the city of Chattanooga and its mayor, Andy Berke.
The suit is based on the city’s ban of drive-in services.
“It makes no sense that you can sit in your car in a crowded parking lot or at a drive-in restaurant in Chattanooga, but you can’t sit in your car at a drive-in church service. Chattanooga’s ban is unnecessary and unconstitutional, and that’s why we have filed suit,” Ryan Tucker, an ADF senior counsel, said in the statement.
News Channel 9 reported that the lawsuit quotes U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who recently said the government “may not impose special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar nonreligious activity.”
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” earlier this week that local governments are making a lot of “draconian rules that don’t make any sense.”
Churches across the U.S. have clashed with local and state law enforcement over these stay-at-home orders and insist that religious places of worship have been unfairly singled out. They point to places like Home Depot and supermarkets staying open.
Huckabee pointed to the report on the Greenville, Miss., church where members were fined $500 for sitting outside the actual building and listening to the sermon from their cars. He called the situation there “frightening.”