Church Where Members Were Fined $500 Each Can Continue “Drive-In” Services After Suing City

State   |   Kelly Shackelford   |   Apr 16, 2020   |   6:22PM   |   Greenville, Mississippi

It’s not often that a lawsuit results in victory the very same day it’s filed. However, yesterday was one of those days—and it’s a major milestone for religious liberty in this difficult time.

Early yesterday, First Liberty Institute filed a federal lawsuit against Greenville, Mississippi Mayor, Errick Simmons, on behalf of our client, King James Bible Baptist Church (KJBBC), seeking to stop his unconstitutional order from prohibiting CDC-compliant drive-in church services.

Later the same day, Mayor Simmons announced that he was rescinding his order, and allowing drive-in church services to operate free of government interference (provided that they continued adhering to proper CDC guidelines).

As you may recall, this was the case in which the local police department actually showed up in force to intimidate and disperse Pastor Hamilton and his parishioners. They even went so far as to tell Pastor Hamilton (pictured): “Your rights are SUSPENDED.”

But the Constitution is most certainly not suspended, nor does it give government officials a free pass to do as they wish. We are thankful for Mayor Simmons’ prompt response in rescinding his order, and recognizing the importance of protecting religious liberty.

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We are also grateful to Attorney General William Barr, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves for coming alongside us and supporting the right of churches to hold drive-in services. Gov. Reeves may have said it best: “The government cannot shut down churches. Mississippi is not China—this is still America.”

And this victory comes just a few days after a separate win for the religious freedom of a Kentucky church just in time for Easter, when a federal judge granted our temporary restraining order (TRO) which prevented Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer from blocking On Fire Church from holding drive-in services on Easter.

I wanted to share this important update with you, as we continue to remain on the frontlines to ensure the cooperation of church and state during this critical time.

We strongly believe that the work we are doing right now is vital to the future of religious freedom in our country. We would be grateful for any support you are able to provide in supporting these efforts.

We are All In this together.

LifeNews Note: kelly Schackelford is the president and chief counsel of First Liberty Institute, which represented King James Bible Baptist Church.