Religious liberty

"On Holy Thursday, an American Mayor Criminalized the Communal Celebration of Easter"

A federal judge blocks the Louisville ban on drive-in church services.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

[UPDATE, Apr. 13, 2020, 5:53 pm Eastern: See this post for more.]

From today's decision by Judge Justin R. Walker (W.D. Ky.):

On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter.

That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion. But two days ago, citing the need for social distancing during the current pandemic, Louisville's Mayor Greg Fischer ordered Christians not to attend Sunday services, even if they remained in their cars to worship—and even though it's Easter.

The Mayor's decision is stunning.

And it is, "beyond all reason," unconstitutional. {Cf. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 31 (1905).} …

Four days ago, defendant Mayor of Louisville Greg Fischer said it was "with a heavy heart" that he was banning religious services, even if congregants remain in their cars during the service. He asserted, "It's not really practical or safe to accommodate drive-up services taking place in our community." Drive-through restaurants and liquor stores are still open.

Two days ago, on Holy Thursday, the Mayor threatened church members and pastors if they hold a drive-in Easter service: "We are not allowing churches to gather either in person or in any kind of drive- through capacity." "Ok so, if you are a church or you are a churchgoing member and you do that, you're in violation of the mandate from the governor, you're in violation of the request from my office and city government to not do that." "We're saying no church worshiping, no drive-throughs."

The same day, the Mayor's spokesperson said he would use the police to deter and disburse drive-in religious gatherings: "Louisville Metro Police have been proactive about reaching out to those we've heard about, and discouraging organizers from proceeding." …

There is no doubt that society has the strongest of interests in curbing the growth of a deadly disease, which is the interest Mayor Fischer and Metro Louisville (together, "Louisville") has asserted when ordering churches and churchgoers to stay home on Easter. "When faced with a society-threatening epidemic, a state may implement emergency measures that curtail constitutional rights so long as the measures have at least some 'real or substantial relation' to the public health crisis and are not 'beyond all question, a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law.'" {In re Abbott, 2020 WL 1685929, at *7 (5th Cir. Apr. 7, 2020) (quoting Jacobson, 197 U.S. at 31).}

In this case, Louisville is violating the Free Exercise Clause "beyond all question."

To begin, Louisville is substantially burdening On Fire's sincerely held religious beliefs in a manner that is not "neutral" between religious and non-religious conduct, with orders and threats that are not "generally applicable" to both religious and non-religious conduct. "The principle that government, in pursuit of legitimate interests, cannot in a selective manner impose burdens only on conduct motivated by religious belief is essential to the protection of the rights guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause." In Lukumi Babalu, the City of Hialeah's ban on animal sacrifice was not "neutral" or "generally applicable" because it banned the Church of Lukumi Babalu's ritualistic animal sacrifices while at the same time it did not ban most other kinds of animal killing, including kosher slaughtering and killing animals for non-religious reasons.

Here, Louisville has targeted religious worship by prohibiting drive-in church services, while not prohibiting a multitude of other non-religious drive-ins and drive-throughs—including, for example, drive-through liquor stores. Moreover, Louisville has not prohibited parking in parking lots more broadly—including, again, the parking lots of liquor stores.

When Louisville prohibits religious activity while permitting non-religious activities, its choice "must undergo the most rigorous of scrutiny." That scrutiny requires Louisville to prove its interest is "compelling" and its regulation is "narrowly tailored to advance that interest." Louisville will be (highly) unlikely to make the second of those two showings…. As in Lukumi Babalu, the government's "proffered objectives are not pursued with respect to analogous non-religious conduct, and those interests could be achieved by narrower ordinances that burdened religion to a far lesser degree."

In other words, Louisville's actions are "underinclusive" and "overbroad." They're underinclusive because they don't prohibit a host of equally dangerous (or equally harmless) activities that Louisville has permitted on the basis that they are "essential." Those "essential" activities include driving through a liquor store's pick-up window, parking in a liquor store's parking lot, or walking into a liquor store where other customers are shopping. The Court does not mean to impugn the perfectly legal business of selling alcohol, nor the legal and widely enjoyed activity of drinking it. But if beer is "essential," so is Easter.

Louisville's actions are also overbroad because, at least in this early stage of the litigation, it appears likely that Louisville's interest in preventing churchgoers from spreading COVID-19 would be achieved by allowing churchgoers to congregate in their cars as On Fire proposes. On Fire has committed to practicing social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines. "Cars will park six feet apart and all congregants will remain in their cars with windows no more than half open for the entirety of the service." Its pastor and a videographer will be the only people outside cars, and they will be at a distance from the cars.

Louisville might suggest that On Fire members could participate in an online service and thus satisfy their longing for communal celebration. But some members may not have access to online resources. And even if they all did, the Free Exercise Clause protects their right to worship as their conscience commands them. It is not the role of a court to tell religious believers what is and isn't important to their religion, so long as their belief in the religious importance is sincere. The Free Exercise clause protects sincerely held religious beliefs that are at times not "acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others." …

[F]or some believers Easter means gathering together, if not hand in hand or shoulder to shoulder, then at least car fender to car fender. Religion is not "some purely personal avocation that can be indulged entirely in secret, like pornography, in the privacy of one's room. For most believers, it is not that, and has never been." Instead, just as many religions reinforce their faith and their bonds with the faithful through religious assemblies, many Christians take comfort and draw strength from Christ's promise that "where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Indeed, as On Fire points out, "the Greek word translated 'church' in our English versions of the Christian scriptures is the word 'ekklesia,' which literally means 'assembly.'"

It is true that On Fire's church members could believe in everything Easter teaches them from their homes on Sunday. Soo too could the Pilgrims before they left Europe. But the Pilgrims demanded more than that. And so too does the Free Exercise Clause. It "guarantees the free exercise of religion, not just the right to inward belief." …

Finally, nothing in this legal analysis should be read to imply that the rules of the road in constitutional law remain rigidly fixed in the time of a national emergency. We know that from Jacobson v. Massachusetts. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended every aspect of our lives: how we work, how we live, how we celebrate, and how we mourn. We worry about our loved ones and our nation. We have made tremendous sacrifices. And the Constitution is not "a suicide pact."

But even under Jacobson, constitutional rights still exist. Among them is the freedom to worship as we choose. The brief history at the outset of this opinion does not even scratch the surface of religious liberty's importance to our nation's story, identity, and Constitution. But mindful of that importance, the Court believes there is a strong likelihood On Fire will prevail on the merits of its claim that Louisville may not ban its citizens from worshiping—or, in the relative safety of their cars, from worshiping together….

The court also held that the closure violated the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which generally requires religious exemptions from laws even when those laws are neutral and general applicable. The Kentucky RFRA also calls for strict scrutiny of denials of exemptions; the court applies the same strict scrutiny analysis it applied under the Free Exercise Clause, and concludes that an exemption must be granted:

[A]as above, banning drive-in church services isn't the least restrictive means to advance Louisville's interest in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Moreover, if sitting in cars did pose a significant danger of spreading the virus, Louisville would close all drive-throughs and parking lots that are not related to maintaining public health, which they haven't done. {In the interest of moving on from the Court's example of liquor stores that are open, the Court takes judicial notice that ice cream shops (and their parking lots) are still open ….}

Thanks to Josh Blackman for the pointer.

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NEXT: Huge Legislature-Governor Conflict in Kansas, Over Emergency Powers (Stemming from Religious Freedom Dispute)

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  1. What the clingers fail to realize with all this talk of liquor stores being open, is that liquor stores furnish a superior substitute to what the churches are offering. As the great jurist A. E. Housman said:

    And malt does more than Milton can
    To justify God’s ways to man.

    Less well known, even to connoisseurs of poetry, are the lines immediately following:

    Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
    For fellows whom it hurts to think:
    Look into the pewter pot
    To see the world as the world’s not.

    (A Shropshire Lad, LXII)

    So if you don’t like thinking and want an illusory world, don’t mess with religion, do what George Thorogood does:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfqz2R34eqo

    1. “The Court does not mean to impugn the perfectly legal business of selling alcohol, nor the legal and widely enjoyed activity of drinking it. But if beer is “essential,” so is Easter.”

      1. Beer is food, and food is essential, at least in the estimation of a competent adult.

        Easter is a fairy tale — one enjoyed by many a child (of all ages) — and is roughly as “essential” during a pandemic as is a Star Wars marathon, an Animal House-Caddyshack double feature, or a Rolling Stones concert.

        Rulings such as this one will please clingers while building Democratic resolve to reduce the influence of right-wing judges in America — likely using means resembling those Republicans employed during the mid-1800s.

        1. “Beer is food.” Well, that does explain Kirkland posts.

          1. Not that I hold any brief for him, but he’s right. I dimly recall my father saying this, and he could prove it. Not only was it nutritious, it was also a comparatively safe food for much of human history. Of course problems arise when one has beer with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That way diabetes lies, to say nothing of obesity.

    2. But the First Amendment exists to keep government from establishing doctrines like this as policy.

  2. Legal merits aside, that worshippers remain “in their cars” has no relevance unless they have pushed the “Recycle air” button. It has been shown for example that a sufferer’s cough in a supermarket quickly invades the nearby aisles; a car’s ventilation system will export virus fomites quite efficiently to nearby cars.

    1. Is that true if—as will purportedly be the case here—the cars are parked six feet apart?

      1. So far as I can tell, the “six feet” or “two metre” rule is rather arbitrary. As Forbes’ Bill Roberson put it, “Your car could be a wagon full of dangerous germs”, and European car manufacturers are putting out disquieting advice, such as “… always thoroughly airing your car after you clean it. And airing is linked to another piece of advice: clean the air-conditioning unit… you can buy (online, say, or at petrol stations) specialised sprays for cleaning a car’s air-conditioning and ventilation system”. This might be necessary despite filtration, because even a “…top of the range [cabin filter] includes both activated carbon – to absorb fine impurities and pollutants – and antibacterial treatment” but is not designed with antiviral properties.

        1. OK, I need to say something here — and let’s start with anthrax which I know a bit more about. One anthrax spore won’t harm you, and if you live where cattle have ever been, you’ve probably breathed in at least one spore in your life. Probably more than that — it’s an issue of critical mass and “infective dose” which varies for everyone.

          20 years ago, during the Anthrax scare, there was a woman in her 90’s who also died of it. She was living in a 300 year old farmhouse in rural Connecticut and the consensus was that she most likely stirred up some natural spores from years gone by — and she’d have been OK had she been 19 and not 91 or whatever she was.

          Same thing here — we don’t know how much Wuhan Virus it takes to infect someone, so all we can say is where and how long viable virus can be found, without knowing if it is anywhere near enough to infect anyone. Even if/when we get to that point, it will be like a LD-50, where the *guess* is that 50% would be infected at that dosage, with 50% not being infected. (LD-50 is die, but whatever…)

          All modern cars draw in air via two means — the forward motion of the vehicle and the blower fan. It draws in air from the engine compartment (another issue) and most modern cars run this incoming air through a filter. No movement and no fan means no fresh air coming in — and this is how Carbon Monoxide poisonings can happen, but I digress….

          Yes, anything’s possible. Your gas tank could come loose, start dragging on the pavement, shoot sparks and explode. It *could* happen, but isn’t likely, and that’s the risk I see here….

          1. I do take your point, but Anthrax, of course is bacterial. Covid-19 is a virus, a couple of orders of magnitude smaller than anthrax – and a lethal dose of anthrax is normally about ten thousand spores. Such spores in any event usually form in clumps and must be ground down for weaponization; this is not true for a virus, and Covid-19 has a much higher basic reproduction number than, say, the ‘flu. The upshot: filters which work for bacteria don’t for a virus, and this virus appears particularly hardy, remaining infectious for days on hard surfaces (like a car).

            1. No, no, & no.

              We don’t know what the infective dose is, while any virus is about 1/10th the size that even a N-95 mask is designed for, an aerosol consists of larger droplets, and while this virus remains “viable” for up to three days on stainless steel (car fenders weren’t tested), that does NOT mean that it “remains infectious” that long.

              If you are interested, here’s the research:
              https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.09.20033217v1.full.pdf

              One caveat: That was in a lab. Outdoors, you are talking water droplets that are heavier than air, they will sink. Sink to the ground.

              Now anything’s possible, but I’d more worry about grandma having a squirrel’s nest on her exhaust manifold and her car catching fire than any transmission of the Wuhan Virus at today’s event. Or maybe there’ll be an earthquake or a tornado — bleep happens.

              Someone could get hit by a meteorite — bleep happens — but we have to live our lives….

              1. People surely do have to live their lives; but does that necessarily include congregating in a congregation? Thank you for the paper, even so, which supplements others we have read. It was particularly good to see the Abstract concluded by saying:
                ” Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days”.
                So, can you advise which of my propositions your “No, no, & no” referred to?
                – I did not refer to the infective dose for Covid, only that for anthrax.
                – Various researchers have concluded that the Ro of Covid-19 is around 3, that is, much worse than ordinary ‘flu (but not as bad as, say, measles at ~14). I’m happy to agree the WHO thinks it’s a bit lower (1.4 ~ 2.5).
                – You are right to emphasise that our knowledge is uncertain; there is as always a certain dependence on time, place, population density, climate etc. Covid-19 is nonetheless much more contagious than ordinary ‘flu under like circumstances. In fact some researchers put Ro way above this range, at over 3.5. So the “basic reproduction number” is fairly well established, at least to the extent we can say Covid is more infectious than ‘flu (but less that some terrible diseases like polio).
                – When I wrote about ‘filters’ I was thinking of car cabin filters, not not N95 masks – which should in any event be reserved for medical and emergency personnel (Ordinary cloth masks are sufficient for the general population, being at least some help in preventing an infected person from generating a virus cloud).
                – I had thought that the survival of the virus on hard surfaces, like stainless steel, would include car fenders. If you are thinking that exposure to the elements would kill it faster than indoors, I might agree, but I’d contend this is one time the precautionary principle is a good plan.
                – One needs to be a bit careful about things naturally sinking to the ground. A feather certainly will – but slowly; and aerosolised Covid droplets are much, much slower. There have been CFD models of the aerosol cloud generated by a cough in a supermarket showing droplets propagating at head height to neighbouring aisles before sinking too for breathing – and even then, they coat the clothing of shoppers for later infection by hand and eye.
                It’s important to understand just how fine a spray we are speaking of. ASABE [Agro and Bio Engineering society] developed a median droplet volume classification system (S-572.1) that ranges from extremely fine to ultra coarse, using diameters measured in microns. Even the Extremely Fine (XF or “purple”) mechanical spray category, at less than 60 microns, is far greater than a typical sneeze aerosol at less than 5 microns. So virus aerosol droplets fall MUCH, MUCH slower than even the finest spray.
                Just how much depends on the computational fluid dynamics model, but a simple analysis proceeds from Stokes’ law for laminar flow around spheres: F=3πdVη, where d is the droplet diameter. This means the drag force is proportional to the cube root of the droplet mass, and doing the calculation we find those droplets don’t touch the ground for hours. If there are local thermal updrafts (like from warm steel cars), longer.

                1. People surely do have to live their lives; but does that necessarily include congregating in a congregation?

                  To some it does…

                  1. Just as some folks need (or think they need) bridge tournaments, Ultimate Frisbee contests, beer pong sessions, fraternity gatherings, and Ku Klux Klan meetings.

          2. It draws in air from the engine compartment (another issue) and most modern cars run this incoming air through a filter.

            Most cars draw in fresh air for the cabin from an area near the base of the windshield and rear edge of the hood that is sealed off from the engine compartment.

    2. a car’s ventilation system will export virus fomites quite efficiently to nearby cars.

      See, e.g., the hyperactive imagination of the rather ironically named “Richard Smart.”

      1. There’s a reason traffic control signs approaching testing stations include the admonition to “Keep windows up at all times”. That at least is not a figment of my imagine. At the proposed Easter services, by contrast, “Cars will park six feet apart… with windows no more than half open for the entirety of the service”, which means air conditioning won’t be on; especially, filters will not be active. That means a cloud of virus particles will form outside any car with an infected person and an open window. Happy Easter, everyone.

        1. I believe the concern is keeping Carbon Monoxide out of the passenger compartments. Carbon Monoxide forms a stronger bond with the hemoglobin molecule than Oxygen does and hence is highly lethal because your body needs all those Oxygen atoms that otherwise would have bonded with the hemoglobin in your blood.

          Now is this a realistic concern — I’m more inclined to think some liability lawyer told them to do it. And keeping windows up will keep all the children’s hands, heads and toys *in* the vehicle…

          1. Don’t know. Sounds plausible. Or perhaps the testing officers want to get a good look at the occupants before exposure to the air they breath.

    3. Viruses usually infect people by riding on droplets. They’re not literally suspended in the air by themselves so a typical cabin filter would probably get rid of them.

      1. I thought so too, but inspecting the details for our 2007 Lexus discovered that the cabin filter was only operational when the air conditioner was on. Engaging the ‘recycle’ function is a quick fix, but just how many will do that?

        1. How many people in Kentucky will sit through an entire church service with the radio on, the windows up, but the AC off?

          1. There was provision for car windows to be half-open; but if that’s true the virus escapes. If it’s not, the worships won’t run their A/C so cabin filters won’t be in effect. If the A/C is running, the engine would have to be going, because last I heard, an Air Conditioning unit consumes up to 15% of engine power. Certainly if I switch on A/C in the Honda Odyssey, the motor must be running, and engine speed increases about 300rpm.
            Perhaps American models are different, but I find it hard to imagine a vast park of worshippers all with their engines going.

    4. Well, if you change the meaning of “no relevance,” perhaps.

      1. Read the judge’s description; car windows may be half-open, and the cars will be six feet apart. It’s worth mentioning that the WHO’s “three feet” or the usual “six feet” is an arbitrary distance. That’s one reason the worshippers being in their cars has no relevance; CDC published a paper showing six feet is demonstrably too close:
        https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/7/20-0885_article
        Virus fomites even in still indoor environments percolate over twice that distance from those infected. Worse, aerosolized droplets drift for hours before sinking to the ground.

        1. Certainly given this evidence we should ban in-person visits to the grocery store and allow only delivery and curbside pickup?

          1. Not sure how grocery visits work where you are, but we have to:
            (a) queue up at the door standing over yellow taped crosses over six feet apart;
            (b) at the entrance, wash hands in a special solution of some kind;
            (c) a masked and gloved staff member then hands customers a basket or trolley (disinfected, of course);
            (d) enter when directed by the staff member, usually when a prior customer exits;
            (e) wash our debit cards when paying. There are new transparent plastic barriers to prevent cross-contamination at checkouts, the staff too are masked and gloved, and don’t bag your goods; instead, they are put in another disinfected trolley for you to exit the door with, unless you brought your own bag for small purchases.
            This is normal practice now at least in Australasia, where we have been locked down. Is it not like that in the US? At least in New York?

            Is it not the same in the USA?

  3. It does not surprise me one bit that opportunistic liberals are using this pandemic as a way to grind their social justice warrior axes. Banning Christians has always been on top of their list (along with shuttering gun stores) so of course they are using this as a chance to make it happen.

    1. Save some of your outrage for the other side, as the ‘opportunistic conservatives’ are banning abortions and using COVID-19 as an excuse.

      Unless only liberals can be opportunistic jackasses in your world-view?

      1. One is explicitly mentioned in the constitution, the other is not.

        1. That doesn’t have anything to do with the assertion that liberals are using social distancing to destroy Christianity.

          1. Well, no. If we actually wanted to get rid of Christianity, the best approach would be to just stand aside, let the church business go on as usual, and let nature take its course.

            1. Only if the proposed restrictions were effectual and necessary, and only assuming that Christians aren’t medically proactive. Which latter might be true of a few sects, but my Catholic church was ahead of the state in imposing restrictions on its own; We were on flu season rules months ago, and shut down services in the church ahead of the state order.

        2. Both are the law of the land.

      2. No one banned abortions. They just narrowed the scope of availability. Even under those emergency orders women could still find resources to murder their baby if they so chose.

        1. You going to argue it was not opportunistic, but just normal good faith governance?

          Because you were super into bloodthirsty women killing babies a few days ago…might not track super well with your analysis.

          1. I said nothing of the sort other then during a pandemic the top priority for the liberal left is to keep the baby killing factories open. Just an observation….

          2. “You going to argue it was not opportunistic, but just normal good faith governance?”

            You’re going to argue that a governor who is opposed to abortion, and who with good cause makes an order of general applicability banning elective medical procedures, including abortion and similar procedures, is acting in bad faith? I’d love to hear the argument for that.

            1. If he were acting in good faith, he would extend the cut-off gestational age by the same length of time as the closure of abortion clinics, in order to avoid punishing women for failing to get timely abortions while the clinics are closed. So, if the state allows abortions up to 20 weeks, and the clinics are closed for five weeks, then, for five weeks after the clinics re-open, the Governor would allow abortions up to 25 weeks gestation, not just 20 weeks.

              1. 1) The order didn’t refer to abortion in any way.
                2) This assumes the cut-off gestational age is arbitrary.

                Look, the order didn’t apply to medically necessary medical procedures, only elective ones. The only reason it’s having any effect on abortion at all, is that almost all abortions aren’t medically necessary.

                The personal autonomy and privacy reasoning protecting abortion ought, in principle, apply to any elective procedure, and if anything, more strongly to procedures other than abortion, which don’t involve killing anyone, but instead are entirely self-regarding and victim free. But the courts only protect abortion, and nothing else.

                Making it obvious they’re lying about the basis for protecting abortion.

            2. Given abortion is a constitutional right, yes, it is bad faith.

              1. Given that 2+2=3, I can prove that 8=6. Using false starting premises are problematic that way.

      3. That’s right Jason Cavenaugh, butchering babies is the exact same thing as attending a meeting.
        Bloody ghoul.

        1. Strawman fallacies indicate you don’t have a legitimate argument.

          Try again, but with less partisan foolishness please.

        2. If you have information about a single butchered baby, you should contact the relevant authorities without delay.

          If you do not, you should stop spouting superstitious nonsense while competent adults are attempting to engage in reasoned debate.

          And maybe plan for all of the manslaughter prosecutions your 16th century thinking would require with respect to women who exercise, drink, or otherwise work their way into early miscarriages.

          Or just open wider, clinger, and prepare for even more progress to be shoved down your throat by your betters.

    2. So the fact that these orders also apply to Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims is just a side effect?

      1. Where are mayors breaking up the activities of those religions?

        1. Well the Kentucky Mosques and Synagogues are not trying to hold services, although it is Passover and Ramadan begins in less than two weeks. So the issue didn’t come up. It also isn’t coming up with Catholics because the Archbishop of Louisville suspended services back in March. I assume that attempts to break social distancing guidelines by those groups would invite a similar response from the government.

          1. How do you know they are not holding services? It is not like the PC press is going to cover them flaunting the rule of law or the SJW types saying it is OK because of “diversity”…

            1. Because they couldn’t possibly keep that a secret?

              1. The Cook County Commissioners really didn’t care if the Klan had a rally in a Chicago park. The concern was that if they did, the Cook County Republican Party might want to have one as well.

                There is a rule of precedent — and while this is West Virginia, to the extent those other faiths are organized there, I’m sure they would be allowed to use this ruling in their favor as well.

            2. How do you flaunt the rule of law?

              Is it a document you wave around?

              Besides which, you’re an idiot. You have no reason to think that Catholics, Jews, and Muslims are holding services, but that’s what your feeble brain wants to think, so it must be so.

        2. Jimmy,
          The mayor broke up each and every single example of Jewish (Hindu, et al) group services that were being planned. In the real world, this equaled zero, as it happens. But I have no doubt that, if the city’s Little League announced a big “Bring your family and Play baseball” Day, the mayor would have cracked down on it just as hard and just as swiftly.

          I think the court got this one right. “You can’t meet in the usual ways. But if you’re gonna stay in your cars for the religious service? Then, this you may do, and trying to forbid it violates the First Amendment.”

          1. I agree…The Court got this right.

            Honestly, I think the Mayor was acting out of good intentions, but just over-extended the limits of his authority. I don’t believe there was religious animus. In Louisville, KY? Nope.

  4. A Democrat, of course.

    1. Of course…wouldn’t expect anything less from that party.

  5. Glad to see the judge is not exaggerating…

    1. Well he wasn’t.

  6. Sadly, it seems there’s no shortage of petty little tyrants, perfectly willing to eschew common sense and enforce their own “unique” versions of citizen control, “for their own good” of course.

    Whether it’s closing gun stores and ranges, telling stores what they can and can’t sell (Marijuana and Liquor yes, baby car seats no), arresting paddle boarders, stopping church services at drive in movies, or cuffing a solo runner on an abandoned beach.

    Stupid British, they could have stopped the whole Revolution and kept the colonies by just declaring a “medical emergency; All Minutemen must stay in their homes” and skipped that whole Lexington-Concord thing.

    1. Better example, imagine what Bull Connor could have accomplished…

      The truly sad thing is that I don’t know how many of the Social Justice Warriors even know who Bull Connor was, but there is Google, and perhaps a fire hose clipping or two kicking around on You-Tube. And yes folks, people like him existed and stuff like that actually happened…

  7. This can be bad policy, and yet not some sort of secret plot against Jesus by those Democrat bastiges.

    The paranoia and victimization these days…

    1. It also ignores the context that the vast majority of Christian religious institutions appear to be canceling services. For instance, if Kentucky Democrats wanted to destroy Catholicism by canceling Easter they were beaten to the punch by the Archbishop of Louisville.

      1. Unlike Catholics, each Protestant church is largely self-governing. How much depends on the denomination, but to some extent, each feels that *it* has the right to cancel services, not to be told to.

        I think that is what was behind this — the ministers aren’t stupid and they aren’t going to intentionally endanger their congregations, for a whole bunch of reasons starting with no congregation means no pay for the minister — if he gets them all killed, he doesn’t get a paycheck anymore…

        And a bunch of families all in their own cars in the parking lot is pretty safe — maybe lightning will hit a tree and it will fall and crush a few people to death, anything’s possible, but it’s pretty safe….

      2. “if Kentucky Democrats wanted to destroy Catholicism by canceling Easter they were beaten to the punch by the Archbishop of Louisville.”

        The Archdiocese has been doing a good job at destroying Catholicism for quite some time. There’s the sex abuse:

        http://www.bishop-accountability.org/Louisville/

        …and the abuse directed at the children of a neighboring diocese (Covington) whose crime was to go to the 2019 March for Life.

        They may as well shut down their churches permanently and quit their phony-balony jobs.

    2. The projection these days…

    3. It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.
      The eliminationist rhetoric spewed against orthodox Jews and Christians by the progs is terrifying.

      1. You may want to check the definition of “eliminationist.”

        1. “Denoting or relating to the belief that a particular group of people should be expelled or eradicated.”

          Yep. You can see that in the comments on pretty much any story relating to religion in the Washington Post.

  8. I assume this opinion would have been much shorter if a Mosque was challenging a similar order on the eve of Ramadan. Lots of unnecessary digressions and self-indulgent discussion of Christianity.

  9. Democrats are totalitarian fascists. That is the only way to understand banning sitting your car for religious purposes, outlawing buying baby car seats, outlawing buying fruit and vegetable seeds for growing, telling stores the individual products that they can sell (some foods yes, materials o make masks no).

    I take solace in knowing they are sowing the seeds of a Trump landslide.

    1. He may win but it’s not going to be a landslide. He won’t even win the popular vote.

      1. To be fair; an electoral landslide is a sort of a landslide. (I personally doubt that a Trump win, if it happens, will remotely approach any type of landslide. Probably something close to last time’s razor-thin wins in a bunch of critical states.) But if he can manage to win, say, 6 Rust Belt states by 1% each, then it’s conceivable that he gets that electoral landslide, despite being despised by the majority of the country’s voters.

        1. Eh even if he repeats his 2016 performance, it’s still not an Electoral College landslide. He was 46/58 in terms of Electoral College margins.

        2. what gives you the idea that he’s despised by the majority of voters? Maybe in the Twitter or ‘mainstream’ news bubble. Hillary also got only a relatively small minority of the voting eligible population so i’m guessing the majority of people didn’t dislike trump enough to vote against him.

          1. Actually, if you added up Hillary’s vote and all the left-leaning third parties, and you added Trump’s vote and all the right-leaning third parties, you find that the right-leaning had a small popular vote margin over the left leaning.

            It’s just that the left’s vote was, (By design, several of the right leaning campaigns were explicitly run to be spoilers.) less split up than the right’s.

            1. Actually, if you added up Hillary’s vote and all the left-leaning third parties, and you added Trump’s vote and all the right-leaning third parties, you find that the right-leaning had a small popular vote margin over the left leaning.

              No, you won’t. Not even close.

              (Hint: Libertarians are not “right leaning.”)

              1. Sure they are, if you ignore all the social issues (abortion, gay rights, contraceptive rights, abortion, et al) that are critically or somewhat important to many/most voters in determining their voting.

                /sarc

              2. Libertarians were certainly right leaning when I was active in the party. I’ll grant you that the march through the institutions is now overtaking Libertarian organizations like Reason, but you’ll notice the LP in 2016 nominated a Republican for its Presidential candidate, not the first time that’s happened.

      2. In a country where the popular vote mattered, the popular vote turnout would be different.

    2. Absolutely.

      Between God and the guns and the grief, a lot of “joe sixpack” types who usually don’t vote will vote this fall, and will vote Red.
      I’ve already called Kansas….

      1. Let’s see how far down the road the clingers’ ‘God, gays, and guns’ platform can compete in modern America. As bigotry and religion continue to dissipate in America — especially successful, advanced America — and our electorate becomes more diverse, Republicans will find it more and more difficult to remain relevant, even aided by gerrymandering, voter suppression, and systemic amplification of yahoo votes.

        I look at the America I experienced 50 years ago, and the America I experience today, and look ahead . . . and am content.

    3. Victimization and paranoia. That’s all you have.

      People will vote, not because my guy is good, but because the other side are so evil.

      This seems to have become the modern GOP.

  10. The Demorat governor of Michian (and perhaps running mate of uncle Joe), ruled by fiat that the Department of Natural Resources would begin ticketing and perhaps arresting people fishing on the stat’s lakes and waterways. Solo kayaking and canoeing are permitted but if the craft has a motor the action is unlawful (no requirements on number of passengers is included in the edict). Let me be the first to suggest, if this crazy government intrusion and control does not soon abate, someone will be hurt. There is no shortage of Jackpine Savages in this state that will not go quietly and the number of firearms/household is one of the highest in the country. A little push back would be encouraging, either for church services or small mouth fishing.

    1. The Michigan order does exempt religious services, at least from any penalty.

    2. You are right — I said the same thing last week and people called me names. Sadly, it’s gonna happen and then everyone will be so sad and so upset. And the b*tch who is responsible won’t be the person who gets hurt….

      1. C’mon Ed,
        Call her a c*nt instead of a b*tch. You know you wanna.

        In for a penny, in for a pound, after all.

        Stupid female politicians. Why on earth do they think they have what it takes to lead? You really nailed her with that “b*tch” description.

        1. Stupid is as stupid does, and Whitmer does stupid better than practically anyone.

          Solo boating is permitted, but not if there’s a motor or a fishing pole? Yeah, that’s stupid. That’s drawing distinctions not on the basis of actual risk of infection, but just the Governor’s personal whims.

          1. Brett,
            I agree that those sorts of distinctions make no sense to me as well. And, if you wanted to respond to my own point . . . what exactly do you think Dr Ed added to the conversation by calling her a bitch?

            My point is that, for a misogynist like Ed; might as well be honest with himself and call her a cunt. Why do things in half-measures?

            1. Yeah, that added nothing. At least “half Whitmer” is amusing.

  11. I think the Court is right.

    1. So do I. So do just about everyone.

      Though the rhetoric in the opinion undercuts it’s force, IMO.

      But these comments during this crisis. The comments remain remarkable in their hunger for victimhood.

      1. Yeah.

        One of the big problems on the right is they can’t appreciate when they win a round. We agree! You have a constitutional right to congregate in your cars to pray to Jesus, even during a pandemic! We’re not trying to squelch your beliefs!

        But they are so attached to this mindset where the liberals are totalitarian thugs that they can’t bask in their wins when they get them.

        1. That strikes me as a big problem for aesthetes and not for anyone else.

  12. I think “if Beer is ‘essential,’ so is Easter” sums the general applicability problem up nicely. One doesn’t have to have nearly as narrow a definition of general applicability as Police v. City of Newark did to conclude it doesn’t exist here.

  13. It would be great to see a list of the most “constitutionally outrageous” actions by executives during this COVID period.

  14. I don’t want to take a political stand on the issue. I want to address all Christians who claim a faith in Christ.

    I would like to clarify a quote on the part of the reverend who was quoted as saying that the Transliterated Word Ekklesia simply means “assembly”.

    As it relates to Christianity, the word Ekklesia actually has several meanings:

    in a Christian sense:
    1. an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting

    2. a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake.

    3. those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body

    4. the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth
    the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven.
    (https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/ekklesia.html)

    No matter if we are alone in our home (as many are out of choice or necessity) or we are gathered in a grand building or if we are sitting quietly on a beach…

    We are practicing Ekklesia.

    Where two or more are gathered…you and Christ’s spirit in you fulfill one aspect of that requirement.

    While corporate worship is desired, there perhaps is a better way to view our current situation.

    Our two greatest commands is to Love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love others as ourselves.

    Please as you consider debating laws of the land, personal rights of freedom, and maybe even feel fear as you are separated from your church family, this never separates us from God. In fact, there is no law that exists in any country under any circumstance that has that power. Our hearts are meant to be governed by Christ; not human emotions.

    Please be encouraged as you consider others over yourself that:
    (NIV Bible)
    Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

    Romans 8:39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    God’s presence and his love is always with all of our brother’s and sisters.

    As representatives of the light of Christ consider one other passage:

    Life by the Spirit- Galatians 5:13-25

    13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

    16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

    1. These dear friends are the things that make us Christians; not a particular kind of assembly.

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