An excerpt from an article I wrote for ERLC.com.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to disrupt life in the United States several months ago, governments across the country have taken aggressive action to combat the spread of the coronavirus and mitigate its effects. At various points over the last several weeks, it has become clear that some of these actions have needlessly imperiled religious liberty. The latest example came into focus over the weekend after a federal judge temporarily blocked the enforcement of an executive order from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper that prohibited churches from holding indoor services with more than 10 people in attendance.
Earlier this month, Cooper’s administration released a three-phase plan to begin reopening the state by lifting the restrictive measures issued in response to the pandemic. But in response to Executive Order 138, which contained details for phase one of Cooper’s plan, multiple parties including two Baptist churches in the state filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the order violated their rights to the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment. Specifically, they argued that the governor’s order continued to restrict the ability of most houses of worship to conduct traditional worship services while allowing most businesses to resume operations as long as they remained at less than 50% capacity based on their building’s fire code.