RALEIGH – The acrimony over Governor Roy Cooper’s treatment of church services under current social distancing orders has been reaching a boil of late, and Thursday will mark yet another elevation as attorneys representing hundreds of North Carolina churches are set to announce a lawsuit concerning the governor’s alleged violations of citizens’ constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion.
The office of Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) released the following statement previewing the press conference, which he will attend, pointing to the unconstitutional nature of Cooper’s orders.
“Representative Kidwell will attend a news conference this coming Thursday, May 14, 2020. at 11:00 AM in front of the North Carolina General Assembly located at 16 West Jones Street in Raleigh, North Carolina, with Return America, where the topic will be a lawsuit being filed on behalf of hundreds of churches in North Carolina against Governor Roy Cooper. The purpose of this lawsuit is to remind the governor that churches are free to exercise their rights under the North Carolina Constitution Article 1, Section 13, and under the United States Constitution in the First Amendment. Through his executive orders, he has restricted the people’s right to attend church by limiting attendance to a maximum of no more than ten people per service, and previously his restriction did not allow any indoor church services.
During the same time, he allowed ABC stores, abortion centers, hardware stores, Wal-Mart stores, vapor shops, NASCAR, and others to operate at much larger capacities. This is an infringement on the religious rights of the citizens of North Carolina. The North Carolina Constitution states explicitly under Religious liberty. “All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”
This is about as clear as the English language gets. But Governor Cooper has for many weeks completely disregarded both this and the United States first amendment where it states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The governor has been asked by many to stop this unconstitutional order, but he continues to prevent the churches from opening. At the very least, churches should be afforded the same amount of freedom given to businesses. It would have been proper for the governor to ask the churches to increase the number of services and extending to their parish halls, or even parking lots. But forcing the churches to close has never been done in the entire history of the United States and should never happen again. The constitutions are by design restrictions on the government, not the governed. As a result of his actions, we the people find it necessary to file suit against Governor Roy Cooper.”
The governor has thus far refused to amend the order to make it consistent with the manner in which other establishments are treated. We’ll bring you more from the press conference Thursday.