Maryville Baptist Church filed its reply brief to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the federal lawsuit against Governor Andy Beshear for violating its religious freedom by targeting churchgoers on Easter Sunday.
Liberty Counsel won an injunction pending appeal from the Court of Appeals and from the federal District Court granting the request for parking lot and in-person church services on behalf of the church and its pastor Dr. Jack Roberts. The March 19 and 25 orders issued by Gov. Beshear previously prohibited ALL religious services, while allowing many secular services. The executive orders clearly targeted religious services for discriminatory treatment. Under the orders, the church could hold meetings to feed, shelter, and provide social services to an unlimited number of people, but religious services were banned in the same building where non-religious services could be held.
The federal Court of Appeals already issued two 3-0 decisions in favor of the church regarding parking-lot and in-person services. The church is continuing the case to obtain a permanent injunction against Gov. Beshear to prevent him from returning to the prior orders, which he clearly wants to do based on his arguments before the courts.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed an amicus brief at the Sixth Circuit in support of Maryville Baptist Church against Governor Beshear’s unconstitutional “no religious services” orders on churches. AG Cameron stated in his brief: “Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear used his pen to close houses of worship across the Commonwealth while allowing similar secular activities to continue uninterrupted. Pandemic or not, the Constitution prohibits public officials from targeting religious exercise in this manner. As the attorney for the people of the Commonwealth, Attorney General Cameron submits this brief in support of the Appellants’ request for a preliminary injunction preventing further religious discrimination.”
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On Easter Sunday, Kentucky State Police troopers came to Maryville Baptist Church, wrote down license plate numbers, and placed notices on every car in the church parking lot. The church set up speakers outside for parking lot service. The state troopers did not go inside the church where a small number of people were spread far apart in a 700-seat sanctuary. Following Gov. Beshear’s threat to target anyone who attended a church service, they placed quarantine notices on each car, including those where people stayed in their cars for the drive-in parking lot service. Anyone whose car was in the parking lot on Easter Sunday received a letter from Gov. Beshear requiring them to sign a document agreeing to take their temperatures every day at the same time and report each day to the Board of County Health Department; to not attend work, school, or shopping centers, church, or any public place; to not travel outside the county; to not travel outside of Kentucky without prior approval; and to not travel by public, commercial, or emergency conveyance such as a bus, taxi, airplane, train, or boat without prior approval.
Yet on that same Sunday, the parking lots of stores and other commercial operations within minutes of the church were packed with cars. These businesses were jammed with people. Not one person received a quarantine notice.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Maryville Baptist Church is seeking a court decision so that Governor Andy Beshear can never again discriminate against churches for religious gatherings. The governor’s unconstitutional orders clearly targeted this church and violated these church members’ religious freedom.”