The Justice Department is siding with a Virginia church suing Gov. Ralph Blackface Northam. Because of his orders, police threatened a pastor with jail time or a $2,500 fine for violating the state’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The pastor held a 16-person church service on Palm Sunday.
The DOJ decision came after police in protective garb served a summons to Kevin Wilson, the pastor of Lighthouse Fellowship Church on Chincoteague Island. The service was held on April 5 and the 16 people were spaced far apart from one another in a church that could fit 293 people.
State officials said Wilson and the church violated the Virginia Constitution by breaking state-imposed social distancing restrictions intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Since when can a governor take away the First Amendment and claim it’s in a state constitution?
That caught the DOJ’s eye.
“The Commonwealth of Virginia has offered no good reason for refusing to trust congregants who promise to use care in worship in the same way it trusts accountants, lawyers, and other workers to do the same,” the DOJ said in a statement of interest obtained by Fox News on Sunday.
Mat Staver, the chairman and founder of Liberty Counsel, representing the pastor, accused Northam, a Democrat, of discriminating against the church and violating the First Amendment.
“As important as it is that we stay safe during these challenging times, it is also important for states to remember that we do not abandon all of our freedoms in times of emergency,” Matthew Schneider, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said in a statement. “Unlawful discrimination against people who exercise their right to religion violates the First Amendment, whether we are in a pandemic or not.”
These assaults on religious people are out of control.
Attorney General Bill Barr indicated last month that he would address some of the more Draconian rules being pushed [by petty tyrants from their fiefdoms].
“People bring those lawsuits, we’ll take a look at it at that time, and if we think it’s, you know, justified, we would take a position. That’s what we’re doing now. We, you know, we’re looking carefully at a number of these rules that are being put into place,” Barr told Hugh Hewitt on April 21.