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Breaking: Facing Lawsuit, Massachusetts Governor Ends Discriminatory Restrictions on Religious Exercise

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May 18, 2021

News Release
For Immediate Release: 5.18.21
Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

Breaking: Facing Lawsuit, Massachusetts Governor Ends Discriminatory Restrictions on Religious Exercise
Governor’s previous policy singled out religious gatherings in a manner inconsistent with recent Supreme Court decisions

Boston, MA—Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the Commonwealth will no longer enforce commonwealth-wide COVID standards that singled out churches for disfavored treatment.  The Governor’s announcement came just days after First Liberty Institute, the Massachusetts Family Institute, and the global law firm Jones Day, filed a lawsuit challenging the restrictions on behalf of New Life South Coast in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

“It is clear that the Governor’s restrictive orders violated religious freedom,” said Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute. “It was patently unfair that people could congregate at a coffee shop but not gather for coffee after worship at a church.  This change is great news for people of faith across Massachusetts.”

“Governor Baker’s decision recognizes what we stated in our lawsuit – churches are essential, and his restrictions were unconstitutional,” said Jordan Pratt, Senior Counsel at First Liberty. “We are grateful that our client and all houses of worship can hold services again without facing the threat of punishment by the state.”

Under new guidance from Governor Baker, restrictions on capacity and social-distancing requirements at places of worship are advisory, rather than mandatory.  The new guidelines also eliminate the previous prohibition on communal gatherings.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans. 

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

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