Judge rules Colorado discriminated against Christian churches with mask mandate
October 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A federal court has put a hold on two of Colorado’s controversial restrictions on in-person religious services, noting that the government was holding religious functions to a different standard than those applied to secular ones.
While the ruling by US District Judge Daniel Domenico dismissed several legal challenges against COVID-19 rules brought by Denver Bible Church in Wheat Ridge and Community Baptist Church in Brighton, Domenico did side with the churches on mandatory masking and on capacity limits on in-person gatherings that don’t also apply to secular gatherings, the Denver Post reports.
“The Constitution does not allow the State to tell a congregation how large it can be when comparable secular gatherings are not so limited, or to tell a congregation that its reason for wishing to remove facial coverings is less important than a restaurant’s or spa’s,” Domenico wrote.
Under the ruling, churches will still be required to practice social distancing and follow sanitizing rules, and will still be forbidden from shaking hands. But congregants will be allowed to remove their face masks as required for religious practice, such as singing.
Colorado health officials have said they plan to appeal the ruling, which they claim got the science wrong and erroneously attributed “bigotry targeted at religion” to the state’s motives. But in the meantime, Colorado Christians are grateful for their regained freedoms.
“We were so thankful that a federal court would recognize our God-given right to worship him, our creator, without the government interfering,” said Pastor Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church, ABC 7 reports.
“This ruling is going to allow these churches to exercise their religious beliefs and carry on the religious worship without having to have a capacity limit or mask mandate in the course of doing so,” added Brad Bergford, an attorney representing the churches.