DOJ Warns States Singling Out Religious Orgs for Regulation to “Expect Action” Next Week

Saturday, Attorney General Barr spokesperson Kerri Kupec tweeted:

During this sacred week for many Americans, AG Barr is monitoring govt regulation of religious services. While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious orgs. Expect action from DOJ next week!

Per Fox News, the DOJ move would come as some churches are standing up to city governments that have blocked them from holding in-person services during the outbreak — even in “drive-in” formats that keep people separated and in their own cars.

A judge in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of Mayor Greg Fischer’s ban on drive-in church services there.

“The Mayor’s decision is stunning,” District Judge Justin Walker, a former clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, wrote in a memorandum to the order. “And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”

Freedom of religion is the first of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” its text begins.

Separately, in Greenville, Miss., two churches have said that police came to their drive-in services and ticketed worshipers.

“Churches are strongly encouraged to hold services via Facebook Live, Zoom, Free Conference Call, and any and all other social media, streaming and telephonic platforms,” Mayor Errick Simmons’ office said in an April 7 press release announcing a ban on in-person and drive-in church services.