In a stunning and utterly irresponsible decision, U.S. District Judge Justin Walker ruled that the city of Louisville, Kentucky cannot stop a church from gathering in person for Easter services on Sunday. The On Fire Christian Church is planning a “drive-in style” service for tomorrow and sued Mayor Greg Fischer after he said they, like other non-essential services, were not exempt from social distancing rules.
You can read Walker’s decision here.
Walker, a judge nominated by Donald Trump, approved by Senate Republicans, and rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, wrote a conservative screed treating the closure of churches as an example of government overreach instead of a sensible policy made to protect public safety.
“On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter,” Walker wrote in his sternly worded 20-page opinion. “That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion.”
Walker added that “The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”
Walker, true to his conservative values, is lying.
No one criminalized Easter. The mayor said no to public gatherings. Christians can still hear the voices in their heads from home, while watching a livestream. There’s no Christian rule that says you have to gather in a building when there’s a virus scare… or else.
Walker goes even further in his ruling, though. He cites Bible verses as if they’re law, refers to Jesus as “God’s only Son” and an empty tomb as if they are facts, spends pages talking about the history of religious persecution, and claims Fischer’s social distancing orders are “threats.”Just look at this passage, which gets to the heart of irrational conservative thinking:
If the Court did not immediately intervene and stop Louisville’s enforcement plan, churchgoers at On Fire would face an impossible choice: skip Easter Sunday service, in violation of their sincere religious beliefs, or risk arrest, mandatory quarantine, or some other enforcement action for practicing those sincere religious beliefs. Unless a government action is far more narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest than is Louisville’s, that is a choice no one in our nation should ever have to face. Conversely, because Louisville allows other, non-religious and no-more-essential parking and drive-throughs, there is not yet any evidence in the record that stopping Louisville from enforcing its unconstitutional order will do it any harm.
Again, bullshit. Drive-throughs are permitted for restaurants and liquor stores — food and drink — where you don’t get out of your car and where people aren’t gathering just for the hell of it. A number of drive-in church services have had people getting out of their cars. It shouldn’t take a dead body and dozens of infected people for a judge to say, “Okay, fine, there’s harm now.”
Remember that Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has already said there’s a statewide stay-at-home order and that everyone who defies the 10-person maximum may have their license plates recorded so that officials can issue a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Again, for safety. And again, the Christians who understand science the least are the loudest voices against it.
Walker just gave churches a green light to host in-person gatherings, even if in their cars, and more people will suffer as a result. His ignorance and their selfishness will prolong the pandemic.
(Screenshot via YouTube)