A church in Kentucky has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Gov. Andy Beshear and a top health official over orders prohibiting in-person services, even though the church has put in place social distancing precautions.
Tabernacle Baptist Church of Nicholasville filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky seeking an injunction against March 19 and March 25 orders banning mass gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plaintiff claims the orders wrongfully target the church and interferes with sincerely-held religious beliefs. The lawsuit lists the governor and Acting Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Friedlander as defendants.
“Defendants’ statewide ban on religious worship services is a substantial burden on the religious exercise of Tabernacle and its members if they cannot meet for in-person corporate worship,” the complaint reads.
“For six weeks, since March 22, 2020, Tabernacle and its congregants have been unable to gather for religious worship in person in their sanctuary for fear of criminal prosecution despite their willingness to abide by social distancing precautions.”
Although the church has conducted drive-in services over the last few weeks, the lawsuit claims that “Tabernacle has a sincerely-held religious belief that online services and drive-in services do not meet the Lord’s requirement that the church meet together in person for corporate worship.”
“Tabernacle also believes that online and drive-in church services are not substitutes for real in-person corporate worship,” the lawsuit contends.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski