Attorney General Barr Issues Support of Mississippi Church Gathering in Midst of Social Distancing Guidelines
Attorney General William Barr has issued a “Statement of Interest in support of a church in Mississippi”. The Mississippi church “held parking lot worship services, in which congregants listened to their pastor preach over their car radios, while sitting in their cars in the church parking lot with their windows rolled up.” The City of Greenville then fined congregants $500 per person for attending these services.
A Statement of Interest is a showing of legal support the Justice Department reserves for “important issues [such as] religious liberty in courts at every level”, in the interest of protecting “citizens’ fundamental right to the free exercise of religion”.
Attorney General Barr says the church was “following all CDC and state recommendations regarding social distancing”, and the city therefore “singled churches out as the only essential service (as designated by the state of Mississippi) that may not operate”.
He added how the “Department of Justice will continue to ensure that religious freedom remains protected if any state or local government, in their response to COVID-19, singles out, targets, or discriminates against any house of worship for special restrictions.”
The City has stated it will drop the fines, but “will continue to enforce the order.”