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Federal Judge Tosses Kansas Governor’s Limits on Churches During COVID


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Due to the COVID pandemic, most states have placed limits on gatherings, including religious services.

Some restrictions are so severe that churches have decided to close temporarily altogether.

Kansas was one of those states, with worship services limited to no more than 10 persons at a time.

A federal judge, however, tossed out that limit this weekend. The judge rightfully noted that the governor of Kansas, a Democrat, had “singled out” churches for stricter treatment. Therefore, her executive order violated the First Amendment.

Fox News has the details on the judge’s ruling:

A federal court in Kansas issued a temporary restraining order Saturday against an executive order capping church gatherings at 10 people due to COVID-19, according to a local report.

The move came a week after the Supreme Court of Kansas ruled in favor of Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat who saw her order overturned by a GOP-led panel of state lawmakers.

Despite the ruling, Kelly defended her order.

“We are in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic,” the governor said, according to The Associated Press. “This is not about religion. This is about a public health crisis.” She called the ruling “preliminary” and said she would remain “proactive” about protecting the public’s health.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, meanwhile, supported the court’s action.

“Today’s judicial ruling is a much-needed reminder that the Constitution is not under a stay-home order and the Bill of Rights cannot be quarantined,” he said. “The Constitution protects our liberties especially during times of crisis, when history reveals governments too quick to sacrifice rights of the few to calm fears of the many.”

The state court had not ruled on the constitutionality of Kelly’s order, according to the Kansas City Star, which led to a pair of federal lawsuits on behalf of two churches and their pastors.

The judge noted that the order banned church gatherings but not similar public activities like crowds at airports or industrial facilities, violating both the First Amendment and a state religious freedom law, the paper reported.

Churches must still practice other social distancing and health guidelines, including taking congregants’ temperatures and sanitizing the building before a service and during in-person gatherings.

You’ll notice that despite what many on the left may infer, the judge’s order doesn’t give churches special treatment. They still have to comply with disinfecting and social distancing orders. The order simply mandates that churches must be treated like every other business and organization and not singled out for harsher treatment.

Meanwhile, tweets show that many people aren’t happy with the closing of churches around the country. 

Check out what’s being said:

Unfortunately, Democrats across the country seem far more interested in keeping pot shops and abortion facilities open rather than churches. In times like these, people often need the support of their worship communities, but some on the left would rather see them buy pot instead.

It's pretty revealing where the Democrat party has drifted to in its ideologies these days.

The Hill had more to say on the matter:

Dodge City’s First Baptist Church and Junction City’s Calvary Baptist Church sued over the order, along with Pastors Stephen Ormond and Aaron Harris, according to the AP.

“Public safety is important, but so is following the Constitution,” Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel for the conservative Christian Alliance for Defending Freedom, which was involved in the case, told the news service. “We can prioritize the health of safety of ourselves and our neighbors without harming churches and people of faith.”

Broomes’s ruling does not lift restrictions on religious services entirely, instead ordering churches and houses of worship to abide by social distancing rules such as standing six feet apart and eschewing the use of collection plates.

Kelly’s office has said at least six deaths and 80 cases in the state were connected to religious gatherings, Eighty-six people have died from the virus in the state and 1,790 cases have been confirmed as of Saturday.

The governor has received substantial pushback over the order from Kansas Republicans in particular, including the GOP-controlled state legislature, which voted to strike down the order in early April, and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who wrote that the law was likely unconstitutional and discouraged law enforcement from enacting it.

Kelly responded to the judge's ruling by calling it “preliminary.”

Take a look at the news report on the Republican-led state senate's response to the judge's ruling:



 

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