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Greenville (MS) backs down, will permit drive-in church services

Greenville (MS) backs down, will permit drive-in church services

Churches now treated the same as other other drive-in establishments, can hold parking lot services so long as attendees stay in their cars with the windows up.

The City of Greenville, Mississippi, made news by banning drive-in church services, where parishioners stayed in their cars to listen to services over the radio, but permitting drive-through and drive-in restaurants and alchohol stores.

The Temple Baptist Church sued, after being threatened with $500 fines. We covered the lawsuit, U.S. Dept. Justice files court support for Mississippi church barred from holding ‘drive-in’ service.

The emergency motion for an injunction has been withdrawn because the Greenville has issued a new Order that permits drive-in church services and various retail establishments, so long as car windows are kept closed. Religious services thus are treated the same as other establishments. This avoids the constitutional issue as to freedom of religion that caused a Kentucky federal court, in a similar case, to issue an injunction.

The Notice of Withdrawal of Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (pdf.) provides:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that Plaintiffs hereby withdraw their Motion for Expedited Hearing and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (ECF No. 5). The issues raised in that Motion relate to a previous Executive Order, dated April 7, 2020, which has been superseded by a new order titled “Council Order Regarding Drive-In Establishments During COVID-19 Pandemic,” dated April 21, 2020. See Exhibit 1. This notice concerns the Motion for Expedited Hearing and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order only.

The attachment is an order from Greenville that provides, in pertinent part:

ORDER: Mandating, effective immediately, that in an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), all drive-in establishments, including but not limited to, restaurants, churches, pharmacies, food pantries, and any and all other establishments, businesses, and organizations that lend themselves to drive-in or drive-up experiences and/or services are permitted and patrons shall keep their windows up in order to protect the life, safety, and general welfare of the general public  Patrons of drive-in establishments may lower their windows only when receiving services rendered by said establishments. State and federal mandates including Center for Disease Control, Mississippi State Department of Health, and social distancing guidelines must be complied with.


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“With the windows up?” Where is the genuine, epidemiological justification for that requirement?

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi delays relief for small companies again, and AOC promises to strip elder individuals of their social security.

The Democratic Party has a new constituency, and it is not The Little Guy.

“permit” church services? I’m pretty sure these guys do not get it.

    Milhouse in reply to rdmdawg. | April 23, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    They do get it; you don’t. Churches are subject to all the same laws as comparable secular establishments are. And yes, they need the same permits as any other establishment. You don’t imagine a church is exempt from obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, do you? Or from a Public Assembly permit? The government may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of exercising first amendment rights, so long as it does so in a completely viewpoint-neutral way.

    The problem with the original rules in Greenville was that they were allowing comparable secular establishments to operate, but not religious ones. They could have fixed that by banning them all. Instead they fixed it by allowing them all. However religious assemblies outside cars are banned, just like all similar gatherings, and that is perfectly constitutional.

      GWB in reply to Milhouse. | April 23, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      You do know that viewpoint neutrality is not the ONLY test of constitutionality, right?

      You’re not wrong about that aspect, here. But your laser focus on it (or other single aspects of an issue) makes all of your comments seem pedantic.

      GWB in reply to Milhouse. | April 23, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      Oh, and he’s actually right. Governments don’t “permit” church services (or the exercise of any other 1st Amendment right), they justify regulations that restrict them in some fashion.

      Exercise of religion is a right not granted by government, but by our creator, and guaranteed by our government. The reason there are legal tests for restrictions on those rights is because the assumption is that they begin without any restriction (aside from natural/common law restrictions). THEN they are bounded by laws and regulations.

      Pedantry? No. A necessary understanding of the proper point of view.

        Milhouse in reply to GWB. | April 23, 2020 at 4:22 pm

        Try running a church without a certificate of occupancy and a public assembly permit.

          Mac45 in reply to Milhouse. | April 23, 2020 at 4:55 pm

          If you are holding church services inside a building, then building codes would apply and a certificate of occupancy would be necessary. However, if the service is being held outdoors, then a public assembly permit would not be necessary. However, normal laws and ordinances such as those governing noise and interfering with the free movement of others in a public space would likely still apply. Zoning laws, which restrict the operation of centers of worship are being struck down all over the country for not allowing people to worship where they please. A church, or other place of worship, is NOT a business and can not be equated with such.

          OwenKellogg-Engineer in reply to Milhouse. | April 23, 2020 at 6:00 pm

          Mac45, I wanted to up vote you, but your post doesn’t allow either. Nice work!! 🙂

          Mac45 in reply to Milhouse. | April 23, 2020 at 6:08 pm

          The pendulum is swinging back on restrictions on place, time and manner of worship. Many courts are ruling that governments may only restrict such factors of worship in the narrowest way possible. This usually means that the time, place and manner of worship may not unduly infringe upon the rights of non-worshipers to go about their lives freely and comfortably. Most such granted restrictions apply to noise and obstructing free passage through public areas.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | April 23, 2020 at 9:03 pm

          Where do you live that public assembly permits are not required outdoors?

With the windows up? The actual greenhouse effect.

Losing their Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, politically congruent religion.

The windows can be “down” (Aren’t there cars which have windows operate horizontally or otherwise?) “only when receiving services rendered by said establishments.” So the windows can be open throughout the services.

2smartforlibs | April 23, 2020 at 3:48 pm

This while San Fran Nan is wiping her snout on her hand on the floor of the House. Seems America isn’t ready for totalitarianism.

I don’t get this fear of contamination out in the open air. Maybe in a city of narrow canyon like New York. But in an ordinary suburb with 30-40 feet between houses? Even if there were virus spores they would be diluted to the Nth in a couple of minutes, wouldn’t they? Seems to me the best place to catch a tiny bit of COvid and have your body overwhelm it.