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A federal judge in Mississippi ruled Friday that the First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs can remain open for drive-in services after cops provided the pastor a citation for holding Easter services in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak.
U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills released the order after the Thomas More Society, a conservative law practice, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the church, according to a press release.
The Thomas More Society claimed authorities had actually also interrupted a Bible study hall 10 days after providing the citation to Pastor Jerry Waldrop.
” These were outrageous infractions of these parishioners’ rights,” Thomas More Society Senior Citizen Counsel Stephen Crampton said in a statement. ” On both occasions, Holly Springs police personnel overlooked the truth that all church members present were practicing social distancing and abiding by all relevant health requirements. Bible study participants were threatened with criminal citations for infraction of Holly Springs’ Stay At Home Order.”
He included: ” Due to the hazards and the citation of Pastor Waldrop, the church members were afraid of holding services on Sunday and exercising their constitutionally safeguarded rights.”
DOJ iNTERVENES IN MISSISSIPPI DRIVE-IN CHURCH CASE, STATES CITY’S ACTIONS ‘TARGET RELIGIOUS CONDUCT’
The complaint pointed out a number of secular events that exceeded 10 individuals at the regional Walmart and Cash Saver shops, claiming there was a double standard being applied to houses of worship that was suppressing religious liberty.
The court said it ” acknowledges that the First Modification guarantee of the Free Exercise of religious beliefs is one of the most crucial ones stated in the Bill of Rights, and, without concern, it grants the Church, in this case, the right to assert particular rights which, state, a barbershop would have no right to assert.”
The very first drive-in service is slated for Sunday.
This news comes less than two weeks after the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened in another Mississippi drive-in worship case and sided with Temple Baptist Church.
In the declaration of interest acquired specifically by Fox News last Tuesday, the Justice Department stated the U.S. routinely submits statements of interest on “important concerns of religious liberty in courts at every level, from high court to the Supreme Court of the United States.” It noted that Attorney general of the United States William Barr has actually “released extensive assistance analyzing religious-liberty defenses” under the Constitution.
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” Today, the Department submitted a Statement of Interest in support of a church in Mississippi that supposedly looked for to hold parking area worship services, in which congregants listened to their pastor preach over their cars and truck radios, while sitting in their cars and trucks in the church parking area with their windows rolled up,” Barr stated Tuesday. ” The City of Greenville fined congregants $500 per individual for attending these parking lot services– while allowing citizens to attend neighboring drive-in restaurants, even with their windows open.”
He included: “The City appears to have thus singled churches out as the only essential service (as designated by the state of Mississippi) that might not operate in spite of following all CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and state suggestions relating to social distancing.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Jake Gibson added to this report