Church Wants Kentucky Gov Andy Beshear to Pay for Illegally Shutting it Down During COVID

State   |   Liberty Counsel   |   Dec 15, 2021   |   2:25PM   |   Louisville, Kentucky

Liberty Counsel filed a motion to the district court in Kentucky seeking attorney’s fees and expenses regarding Maryville Baptist Church in its lawsuit victory against Governor Andy Beshear’s unconstitutional worship restrictions.

Liberty Counsel won an injunction pending appeal from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and a preliminary injunction 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, 2020, and March 25, 2020, 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.

In November 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of New York churches and synagogues, striking down former Gov. Cuomo’s restrictions of 10 and 25 people. On December 3, 2020, and February 6, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Liberty Counsel’s case involving Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, striking down California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s total ban on indoor worship.

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Last year 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 had 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 Kroger, Walmart, liquors 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. Gov. Beshear targeted churchgoers parked in a church parking lot to intimidate and isolate them.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Governor Andy Beshear has finally been permanently quarantined by the courts from returning to his unconstitutional restrictions on churches. The governor must now pay for his abusive and discriminatory actions toward Maryville Baptist Church.”