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The emergency motion for an injunction has been withdrawn because the Greenville has issued a new Order that permits drive-in church services and various retail establishments, so long as car windows are kept closed.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 The issues raised in that Motion relate to a previous Executive Order, dated April 7, 2020, which has been superseded by a new order titled “Council Order Regarding Drive-In Establishments During COVID-19 Pandemic,” dated April 21, 2020.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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