A local Washington, D.C., church can continue to hold outdoor services even though the city has coronavirus restrictions in place, according to a ruling from a federal judge.
The Capitol Hill Baptist Church sued the D.C. and Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser after it was denied a permit to carry on outdoor service with 850 people. Current restrictions limited all churches in the city to 50% capacity and a 100-person limit. But the church argued the multiple mass protests and rallies in D.C. in over the last few months also broke those restrictions.
The church, therefore, argued the city was discriminated against it.
Judge Trevor McFadden said D.C.’s support for the protests, “undermines its contention that it has a compelling interest in capping the number of attendees at the Church’s outdoor services.”
“The mayor’s apparent encouragement of these protests also implies that the District favors some gatherings (protests) over others (religious services),” McFadden continued.
“Our government is restoring equity by extending to religious gatherings the same protections that have been afforded other similar gatherings during this pandemic,” Justin Sok, a pastor at CHBC, said in a statement
“We trust that this will be a blessing not only to our congregation but to the rest of our neighbors in D.C.,” Sok added.
“The Constitution and federal law require D.C. to accommodate Capitol Hill Baptist Church’s effort to hold worship services outdoors to same extent D.C. allows other forms of outdoor First Amendment activity, such as peaceful protests,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec tweeted.
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