Sunday, 10 May 2020
Churches Refuse to Cower Before Caesar; Court Victory in Kentucky
Some churches are suing. Some are asking permission to reopen in-person church services. Some are announcing they are opening in-person church services — with or without the government’s permission.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove issued a temporary restraining order on Friday against Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s edict banning in-person church services.
The complaint was brought by Tabernacle Baptist Church of Nicholasville on Wednesday, May 6. The judge issued the order on Friday and the governor officially backed off that same day. The judge’s ruling applies to all churches in the commonwealth.
On March 25 Governor Beshear issued an executive order that required all organizations that are not “life-sustaining” to close. According to his edict churches were not considered to be “life-sustaining,” but laundromats, accounting services, law firms, hardware stores, and other secular entities were. This formed the first basis of the complaint: blatant discrimination.
But the meat of the complaint rested on constitutional violations:
Requiring Plaintiff [Tabernacle] to abstain from its religious gatherings, despite substantial modifications to satisfy the public health interests at stake, violates Plaintiff’s Constitutional right to free exercise of its religion;
By denying Plaintiff the ability to assemble via an in-person church service, Defendants [Governor Beshear and another official in his administration] are in violation of the Freedom of Assembly Clause [contained in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution];
Requiring Plaintiff to abstain from its religious gatherings, despite substantial modifications to satisfy the public health interests at stake, violates Plaintiff’s Constitutional right peaceably to assemble [also in the First Amendment].
On Friday the judge granted what the church demanded: a temporary restraining order against the governor’s edict.
Later that day the governor backed off….