In Maryville Baptist Church, Inc. v. Beshear, (WD KY, April 18, 2020), a Kentucky federal district court refused a request by a church and its pastor to issue a temporary restraining order against enforcing Governor Andy Beshear’s ban on mass gatherings. The ban includes in-person religious services. The court said in part:
Plaintiffs seek to compare in-person attendance at church services with presence at a liquor store or “supercenter store.” The latter, however, is a singular and transitory experience: individuals enter the store at various times to purchase various items; they move around the store individually—subject to strict social-distancing guidelines…—and they leave when they have achieved their purpose. Plaintiffs’ desired church service, in contrast, is by design a communal experience, one for which a large group of individuals come together at the same time in the same place for the same purpose….
Similarly unpersuasive is Plaintiffs’ contention that the orders violate their right to freely exercise their religion by discriminating against religious conduct. Again, the order temporarily prohibits “[a]ll mass gatherings,” not merely religious gatherings…. Religious expression is not singled out.
Louisville Courier-Journal reports on the decision.