Nearly a week after the Kansas Supreme Court upheld Gov. Laura Kelly‘s executive order limiting church gatherings to no more than 10 people — on a technicality — a federal judge has ruled against Kelly on the merits. He allowed a temporary restraining order against Kelly’s order until May 2.
In English, it means churches are allowed to hold in-person gatherings with dozens of people despite the Democratic governor’s best efforts to save everyone’s lives.
U.S. District Judge John Broomes, who was nominated by Donald Trump in 2017, said in his decision that “churches and religious activities appear to have been singled out among essential functions for stricter treatment.”
The lawsuit over church gatherings was filed Thursday by First Baptist Church in Dodge City and Pastor Stephen Ormond and Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City and Pastor Aaron Harris. The lawsuit said both churches held indoor Easter services with 20 or more members of the congregation present.
But Broomes’ order does not let the churches have services without any restrictions. Instead, he ordered them to abide by recommendations for social distancing that people stay 6 feet apart and continue following other practices the lawsuit said they had imposed, such as not using collection plates.
Because of the decision, Kansas pastors who don’t understand or refuse to accept science will be allowed to put their congregations and the entire community in harm’s way by hosting large in-person gatherings that will allow the virus to spread.
Those restrictions won’t even help. If you put dozens of people inside of a building, they will inevitably chat with each other, hug each other, cross paths and breath the same air — no matter what they’re “advised” to do by their pastors and the judge’s order.
They’re stepping into a trap and they probably don’t even know it.
86 people have already died of COVID-19 in the state. Nearly 1,800 have tested positive for the virus. And no one knows how many people are carrying the virus but aren’t showing any symptoms.
Unfortunately, many of them will now be allowed to attend church and infect a bunch of other people.
“Religious freedom” wins again… and more people will suffer because of it.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State issued a denunciation of the decision late last night:
“Especially during hard times, we must hold fast to our constitutional principles, including the separation of religion and government,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United. “Gov. Kelly’s public health order does not violate religious freedom; it ensures that the government is not favoring some people’s religious practices in a way that endangers other people’s lives. As we’ve already seen in Kansas and across the country, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate between religious and secular gatherings — it spreads easily at both, putting the health of entire communities at risk.
“We sympathize with Kansans who find solace in communal religious services and applaud the faith communities who are finding creative new ways to worship together virtually. We will get through this crisis together, even if not in person.”
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Patricia for the link)