The First Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Yesterday The Blaze posted an article about a drive-in church service in Mississippi that resulted in those present receiving tickets for $500 for attending. Just for the record, the cars had their windows closed and were following social distancing guidelines.
The article reports:
Temple Baptist members were staying in their vehicles with the windows rolled up to listen to Pastor Arthur Scott’s sermon on the radio, the paper said.
Lee Gordon — a 23-year member of the church as well as a representative for the Washington County Board of Supervisors — told the Democrat-Times the church has been using a low-power FM frequency to broadcast sermons in the parking lot for the last three weeks.
“The preacher is in the church at the pulpit, and we are streaming the service live as well,” Gordon added to the paper. “But a lot of our membership is elderly and [lacks access to streaming technology].”
Gordon told the Democrat-Times he and his wife were among those gathered in the church parking lot — and figured they all were abiding by the coronavirus social distancing guidelines given they were in their cars with the windows rolled up.
But that wasn’t the case — and they paid for it.
Gordon told the paper he and his wife were both issued $500 tickets.
“I think somebody called the police,” he added to the Democrat-Times. “And we were just doing the same thing we’ve been doing the last three weeks.”
Gordon noted to the paper that the police “were respectful and just doing their job. They asked us to leave first, and those who stayed got a ticket.”
This is not acceptable behavior. I might be a little more forgiving if the people had been packed inside the church, but they were in their cars following social distancing guidelines. There is no way the city had the right to shut that down. Unfortunately, that may happen in my city tomorrow as some churches are planning to do drive-in services.
Again, if the people are in their cars with the windows rolled up, how is that a problem? This is an obvious violation of the First Amendment and it is good news that court cases will follow.
The article concludes:
And as it happens, First Liberty Institute — which is representing Hamilton and his church — sent a letter to Simmons (Democratic Mayor of Greenville Errick Simmons) urging him to withdraw his executive order, WJTV-TV reported.
“Protecting religious liberty is essential, even during a pandemic,” Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at First Liberty, told the station. “Americans can tolerate a lot, if it means demonstrating love for their fellow man, but they will not — nor should not — tolerate churchgoers being ticketed by the police for following CDC guidelines at church. This has to stop now.”
This is not acceptable. I wonder how long it will be before we get our First Amendment rights back.