Church sues KY governor for right to resume religious gatherings
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NICHOLASVILLE, Kentucky, May 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Kentucky church is bringing a lawsuit against Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear demanding the restoration of their freedom to assemble for in-person religious services.
First Liberty Institute is representing Tabernacle Baptist Church of Nicholasville, which has been unable to lawfully meet in person since Beshear issued his emergency order banning in-person gatherings that don’t qualify as “life-sustaining,” ostensibly in the name of containing the spread of COVID-19. The suit follows another lawsuit by Maryville Baptist Church in Bullitt County.
The church says it is committed to being safe and sanitary during services, including enforcement of 6-foot “social distancing,” regularly disinfecting surfaces, providing hand sanitizer, and encouraging the use of face masks.
“Defendants’ statewide ban on religious worship services is a substantial burden on the religious exercise of Tabernacle Baptist and its members if they cannot meet for in-person corporate worship,” First Liberty’s complaint reads. “For six weeks, since March 22, Tabernacle Baptist and its congregants have been unable to gather for religious worship in their sanctuary for fear of criminal prosecution despite their willingness to abide by social distancing precautions.”
Kentucky Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who was elected independently of the Democrat governor, joined the lawsuit on Thursday, Fox News reported. "Even in times of crisis, the law must be followed, and it’s my job as attorney general to defend it when it comes under attack,” he said.
In response, Beshear claimed he “want(s) to get people back — at the right levels and in a safe way — to an in-person service, but only if a church is ready," so churches should just continue with virtual or drive-in services for “the next couple weeks.”
Beshear has been unwilling to ask the abortion industry to make a similar sacrifice, prompting the legislature to unsusccessfully attempt to authorize Cameron to independently take action against abortionists who continue elective abortions during the crisis.
First Liberty previously won an injunction against a Louisville edict that went so far as to ban Christians from gathering in church parking lots and worshipping from the safety of their own cars.