Kentucky churches were able to hold in-person Sunday services on Mother’s Day weekend after U.S. District Court Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove granted a temporary restraining order Friday against the order of Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, joined the case last week on behalf of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Nicholasville.
The judge’s decision allows in-person religious services that follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines, two weeks ahead of Beshear’s reopen date of May 20.
“If social distancing is good enough for Home Depot and Kroger, it is good enough for in-person religious services which, unlike the foregoing, benefit from constitutional protection,” the judge wrote in the court’s order.
Matthew Martens, a partner at WilmerHale law firm, which represented the church along with First Liberty Institute and Bilby Law PLLC, called Beshear’s order a “textbook violation of the free exercise of religion.”
Beshear defended himself Saturday during a press conference, pointing out that he is a deacon in his church: “We never set out to stop anything specific with religion and I hope that the actions of this trying to speed this up by two weeks don’t result in more people being lost.”
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