July 2020 – During the COVID-19 crisis, a widespread pattern of discrimination against churches emerged. Congregants of Temple Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, were fined $500 for sitting in their parked cars, windows up, in the church parking lot listening to their pastor on the radio. Four days later, after a public backlash, the mayor waived the indefensible fines.
In Kansas City, Missouri, churches and “nonessential” businesses were required to submit names, addresses, and telephone numbers of attendees to city officials for tracking and surveillance purposes.
The story went viral, and, before reaching the May 6 effective date, the executive order was amended to make the release of such information voluntary. However, the revised order continued to single out churches by restricting outside religious gatherings to 50 persons.
A rapidly growing number of lawsuits have been filed by churches across the nation for discriminatory restrictions.
“Our phones at Liberty Counsel are ringing off the hook,” said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel founder and chairman. “Never in our 31-year history have we received so many calls for help from pastors desperate to serve their flocks but not sure how the myriad of state and local orders apply.”
cbn.com, 4/13/20; onenewsnow.com, 4/14/20;
lc.org, 4/17/17, 5/1/20, 5/5/20