This week two churches and a church affiliated nonprofit filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper, claiming that their constitutional rights are being violated by the stay-at-home order.
The stay-at-home order singles out houses of worship for special restrictions that don’t apply to retail establishments and other venues where people gather.
Cooper has repeatedly stated that his decisions are driven by science and data. Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen has stated that because people are seated in churches there is more danger of contracting the virus than in a retail establishment where people are moving around.
The lawsuit notes that houses of worship are limited to having no more than 10 people inside except for funerals where the limit is 50 people and except in cases where it is “impossible” to hold the service outside or with fewer than 10 people because of religious beliefs.
The lawsuit notes that this is discriminating against religions that don’t subscribe to the belief that services must be held inside and involve more than 10 people.
The lawsuit states that Cooper’s executive orders “place more stringent restrictions on the Plaintiffs’ gatherings than they place on a wide range of secular businesses such airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls, shopping centers, office environments, restaurants, factories, or grocery stores.”
Also that the orders, “allow a large number of secular gatherings of more than 10 people, while prohibiting religious Plaintiffs’ gatherings of more than 10 people.”
The two churches that have filed the lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina are the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and the People’s Baptist Church in Greenville. The nonprofit is Return American Inc., which holds rallies, conference and other gatherings and has over 130 supporting churches.