Can government arrest a church pastor for hosting small groups in their buildings? The growing verdict across the nation is no. Now, Vice President Mike Pence is joining other members of the Trump administration and the Justice Department speaking out in support of religious freedom for churches across the nation amid the Covid reopening phase.
Vice President Mike Pence recently backed the Virginia church that sued Gov. Ralph Northam. Liberty Counsel represents Lighthouse Fellowship Church whose pastor, Kevin Wilson, received a criminal summons on Palm Sunday for having 16 people – only six people over Northam’s 10-person limit for religious gatherings — in a church that is rated for 293 people
Pence said he “strongly agrees” with the Department of Justice in filing a Statement of Interest in support of the church. “Even in the midst of a national emergency, every American enjoys our cherished liberties, including the freedom of religion,” Pence said on “The Brian Kilmeade Show” on Fox News Radio.
The charge is violating Northam’s COVID Order 55, with a penalty up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
The DOJ brief states, in part: “Plaintiff has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its claims under the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution that the Commonwealth’s executive orders have prohibited religious gatherings at places of worship, even with social distancing and personal hygiene protocols, while allowing comparable secular gatherings to proceed with social distancing.”
“I am pleased to see Vice President Mike Pence remind America of the importance of religious freedom,” said Matt Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “It is reassuring to have an administration that supports religious freedom. Recognizing the constitutional violations in Virginia against houses of worship, the Department of Justice filed in our case to support the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion in the face of discriminatory orders that give preferential treatment to secular gatherings.”
– Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice