Salem-based Peoples Church and nine other churches across Oregon have sued Gov. Kate Brown to force her to remove state restrictions on religious services and other activities.
The complaint was filed in Baker County Circuit Court on Wednesday by the Pacific Justice Institute, a California-based legal group focused on religious liberty issues. In addition to the churches, about 20 pastors and congregants Medford, Lake Oswego, Lebanon, Grants Pass, Roseburg and others.
The complaint argues that three executive orders issued by Brown in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19 violate constitutional protections for religious freedom as well as a provision in the Oregon Constitution.Salem church joins legal effort to overturn governor’s COVID-19 orders, Salem Reporter, 7 May 2020.
I’m not well-versed in the Oregon Constitution. Maybe they’ve got a legal leg to stand on there, and the governor’s orders need to ratified by the legislature. They’re wrong on the First Amendment though. As long as all religions are treated equally, and religion isn’t treated differently than other businesses or institutions, government is in the clear. The point is that government can favor one religion over another.
That said, it the churches in this case did achieve a court victory all they’d do is spread COVID-19 amongst their congregations.