JACKSON COUNTY, Missouri (LifeSiteNews) – A Missouri county agreed to pay almost $150,000 to a local church that sued officials last year over “discriminatory” COVID-19 restrictions.
Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, approved a settlement with Abundant Life Baptist Church (ALBC) on Monday after the Baptist megachurch filed a federal lawsuit alleging that health orders issued by the county “impermissibly discriminate[d] against religiously-motivated gatherings.”
The majority-Democrat Jackson County legislature approved the $146,750 settlement in a 6-2 vote, the Kansas City Star reported. The legislature also agreed that future restrictions would not disproportionately impact churches.
Last May, Jackson County limited church services to 10 people amid COVID-19, defining indoor worship as “large gatherings or social events.” Retail stores, restaurants, and other “non-essential” businesses, however, were permitted to open with social distance measures at 10% or 25% capacity, depending on size.
ALBC’s largest facility can hold up to 4,740 people, according to the group’s lawsuit, filed May 7 in the U.S. District Court for Western District of Missouri.
“Because Defendants have classified Plaintiff’s ‘church’ activities as ‘non-essential’ and/or ‘large gatherings or social events,’ Plaintiff will only be able to admit ten total persons – counting the pastor and staff – to worship services on May 17, 2020,” the lawsuit stated. “If Abundant Life were to engage in retail sales, or served food and liquor as a bar, rather than religious worship at its Lee’s Summit location, Jackson County’s Phase I plan would allow 474 people in the building at a time while meeting or exceeding the CDC’s guidelines.”
“Defendants’ orders impermissibly discriminate against religiously-motivated gatherings, and in favor of commercially-motivated gatherings.”
ALBC’s complaint noted that the group was “forced to cancel or turn away persons from services of corporate worship and to reduce ministry to members and the public or use less effective methods such as internet streaming services” under Jackson County’s health plan. The megachurch, which runs a food bank and education services, also had to cut activities not defined by the county as “Essential Business,” including “social services for disadvantaged persons.”
ALBC sought a judgment ruling that the county restrictions were “facially unconstitutional,” citing violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, the Missouri Constitution, and the Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“We were going to lose,” Jackson County legislator Dan Tarwater, a Democrat, acknowledged to the Kansas City Star after voting in favor of the settlement on Monday. The county’s lawyers said it was futile to keep fighting the lawsuit, though Tarwater “kind of wanted to wait and see if we could win,” he added.
PETITION UPDATE (9/27/21) -
United has agreed to put off its threatened COVID vaccine mandate for another 2 weeks, as proceedings came to a screeching halt in federal court last Friday.
Mark Paoletta, a partner at Schaerr Jaffe representing the plaintiffs, was quoted by Breitbart as saying:
"Now everyone can follow the court’s decision to take the time and care needed to carefully consider the legitimate claims our clients have as we seek a solution that allows United to take necessary steps to combat COVID-19 while respecting the civil rights of valuable employees who have sincere religious objections or medical conditions that make them unable to take the vaccine."
While this appears to be a lessening of tensions and possibly a step in the right direction, we must wait till the case resumes on October 15 to see if United will scrap their draconian mandate.
In the meantime, we must continue to apply pressure on United.
So, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this pledge to boycott the airline giant for threatening to impose harsh measures - including forced unpaid leave - in order to coerce employees with religious or medical objections to the vaccine to take the jab.
Thank you for continuing to SIGN and SHARE!
United Airlines is accused of not respecting the religious and medical COVID vaccine exemptions which the company offered to employees who cannot, in good conscience or health, take the vaccine.
2,000 employees of the industry giant are represented in two court cases which have been initiated to stop United from laying-off or indefinitely furloughing workers who have sought COVID vaccine exemptions.
Please SIGN this BOYCOTT of United and send the airline a stong message that you will not support the implementation of these draconian measures.
Many United Airlines employees have sincerely held religious objections to taking the COVID vaccines, while other employees have been told by their doctors not to take the vaccine due to health concerns.
The religious and medical rights of these employees must be respected, and, will hopefully be vindicated by the courts.
But, airlines are for-profit businesses, and apart from the legal incentives, there must also be financial incentives for them to respect their employees' religious and medical rights, and, indeed, the same rights of all Americans.
And, that's why we are calling for a boycott.
The CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby, and HR Manager, Kate Gebo, need to understand that the American public will not support businesses who force their employees or customers to violate their religious beliefs or their doctors' recommendations.
Of course, this is totally unnecessary.
United could simply make reasonable accommodations for their employees who are claiming either a religious or medical exemption.
But, until United adopts that policy, we are asking you to consider boycotting the "unfriendly skies" and find another airline for your travel needs. By doing so, you will meaningfully stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these aggrieved United employees.
Thank you for SIGNING and SHARING this petition to boycott United Airlines over the company's failure to respect religious and medical COVID vaccine exemptions for its employees.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Pilots seek restraining order against United Airlines’ ‘unlawful, life-threatening, vaccine-mandate’' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pilots-seek-restraining-order-against-united-airlines-unlawful-life-threatening-vaccine-mandate/
'United Airlines will put employees with religious, medical COVID vaccine exemptions on unpaid leave' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/739949/
**Photo Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
Jackson County and University Health, which oversees the county health department, will pay equal amounts of the $146,750 payment to ALBC.
Abundant Life’s settlement comes after several federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, struck down disproportionately strict limits on places of worship in recent months.
In November, the Supreme Court overturned restrictions in New York state that similarly capped church attendance at as few as 10 people. The high court also blocked a California ban on in-person worship in February and struck down another rule restricting Bible study and at-home worship services in California in April.
The Department of Justice had warned of the unconstitutionality of “special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar nonreligious activity” in a statement last year.
“For example, if a government allows movie theaters, restaurants, concert halls, and other comparable places to assemble to remain open and unrestricted, it may not order houses of worship to close, limit their congregation size, or otherwise impede religious gatherings,” the statement, issued by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, stressed.