JUDGE DENIES EMERGENCY INJUNCTION
TO VIRGINIA MAN CHALLENGING GOVERNOR’S ORDER LIMITING CHURCH GATHERINGS
TO 10 PEOPLE
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research
(The Roanoke Times) — A Russell County judge ruled against a southwest Virginia man’s request to allow more than 10 people to gather in church for Easter.
Judge Michael Moore on Thursday denied retired teacher Larry Hughes’ appeal for a temporary injunction in a lawsuit filed earlier this week that claims executive orders from Gov. Ralph Northam limiting the number of people that can gather in one place infringes on his religious freedom. …
Northam’s executive orders 53 and 55 ban public and private gatherings of more than 10 people, specifically mentioning religious events both inside and outside. Hughes’ lawsuit claims that it’s unfair to effectively shut down religious gatherings but allow other businesses that have been deemed essential to stay open.
T. Shea Cook, Hughes’ lawyer, called Northam’s action a “dangerous precedent” in a phone interview Thursday after the hearing.
Mayor in Miss. Outlaws In-Person Church Services, Christians Ticketed $500 Each for Meeting in Cars
BY HEATHER CLARK
GREENVILLE, Miss. — Police in Mississippi ticketed more than 20 Christians on Wednesday evening who were sitting in their vehicles listening to a sermon from their pastor. The crackdown occurred as the mayor and city council of Greenville have issued an executive order banning in-person church services, including drive-in gatherings where attendees simply stay in their cars.
According to reports, members of Temple Baptist Church tuned in to a radio frequency to listen to their pastor, Arthur Scott, as he preached inside of the church.
A video recorded by member Chris Owens shows a police officer approaching his window and asking for identification, advising that he was giving him “an opportunity to move.” Citing the City order, he explains that the drive-in arrangement is “considered a gathering even though you’re in your vehicle.”
The officer issues Owens a citation, who soon drives away.
View the video below.
“The police officer said I might go to jail,” he stated. “If it means going to jail, and if it takes that for me to keep preaching, I’ll be glad to go to jail.”
The City of Greenville announced via a press release on Tuesday that Mayor Errick Simmons and City Council had issued two new executive orders, one of which pertains to church services.
It cited a statement from the Mississippi Department of Health (DOH) as its motivation.
“Because of recent COVID-19 cases specifically linked to church gatherings, it is vital that Mississippians not attend in-person church services at any church or other type of facility. Services, weddings, and funerals are leading to greater COVID-19 transmission,” the DOH said.
However, the City went even further in its executive order, including drive-in services in its prohibition and recommending that residents do church online or over the phone.
“The City of Greenville put in place an executive order that orders all church buildings closed for in person and drive-in church services, until the State of Mississippi’s Shelter In Place Executive Order No. 1466 is lifted by Governor Tate Reeves,” the press release states.
“Churches are strongly encouraged to hold services via Facebook Live, Zoom, Free Conference Call, and any and all other social media, streaming, and telephonic platforms.”
Scott says that he has been holding the drive-in services for three weeks and intends to fight the restriction.
“I just can’t believe it,” he remarked to Starnes. “I tried to talk to the mayor. I’ve been here 45 years and I’ve never been to the city council. I’ve never complained. I’ve never stirred up a stink. But I told him I’m going to fight them on this.”