RALEIGH – Federal District Court Judge James C. Dever III issued an order Saturday, blocking enforcement of Governor Roy Cooper’s executive edict restricting indoor church services to ostensibly limit the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, state and local officials are now “enjoined from taking an enforcement action” against worshipers throughout the state; you can go to church.
“The record, at this admittedly early stage of the case, reveals that the Governor appears to trust citizens to perform non-religious activities indoors (such as shopping or working or selling merchandise) but does not trust them to do the same when they worship together indoors,” Judge Dever stated in the order. Adding, “The court trusts worshipers and their leaders to look after one another and society while exercising their free exercise rights just as they and their fellow citizens (whether religious or not) do when engaged in non-religious activities.”
A pastor, churches, and a Christian group filed suit in federal court arguing the order limiting religious services was a violation of their constitutional rights. Sheriffs from across North Carolina proclaimed their loyalty to the Constitution, saying they would not enforce such religious service bans in their county. Many churches opened in defiance.
All the while, Cooper would not budge on the church issue. Not matter that the church rules were wildly inconsistent with emergency rules for other establishments; Cooper still thinks you shouldn’t be allowed to go to church. Why? Because to him the ‘What ifs’ from his public health officials are more important than your constitutional rights. His spokesman said as much when responding to the news of the court order.
From the News & Observer:
“[…] Cooper’s spokesperson, Ford Porter, said in a statement that the governor’s office disagrees with the order but will not appeal. Porter urged houses of worship and their leaders to voluntarily follow public health guidance.
“We don’t want indoor meetings to become hotspots for the virus, and our health experts continue to warn that large groups sitting together inside for long periods of time are much more likely to cause the spread of COVID-19,” the statement said. […]”
And the flu. The same could be said for the flu; is that a reason to ban church services Mr. Porter?
Consider how far removed these goals posts have become. The push to ‘flatten the curve’ to avoid overrun hospitals has now morphed into a willingness by our governor to ban church services in a futile and nonsensical effort to prevent people from ever getting sick. It’s exactly why there is such so much pushback over the orders and their arbitrary nature.
After Saturday’s order, churches were able to hold indoor services on Sunday, but the order is still temporary technically. A hearing will be held May 29, the result of which will determine if the order becomes permanent.