Press Releases

Churches Inform Massachusetts Mayor of Plans to Immediately Resume In-Person Church Gatherings Despite His Order

June 10, 2020

News Release
For Immediate Release: 6.10.20
Contact: Lacey McNiel,
Direct: 972-941-4453

Churches Inform Massachusetts Mayor of Plans to Immediately Resume In-Person Church Gatherings Despite His Order
Somerville, MA mayor imposed restrictions on churches much stricter those required by Governor Baker, public health recommendations

Somerville, MA—First Liberty Institute and the Massachusetts Family Institute today sent a letter to Somerville, Massachusetts Mayor Joseph Curtatone informing him that several churches in the city will immediately resume in-person church services on June 14, 2020.  The letter was sent on behalf of four churches: Igreja Comunidade Batista Shalom Internacional, Christian Fellowship of Boston, International Church, and Safe House Baptist Church, each represented by First Liberty.

You can read the letter here.

“Mayor Curtatone’s restrictions on churches would prevent even Jesus and the twelve disciples from lawfully gathering in Somerville,” said Jeremy Dys, Special Counsel for Litigation and Communications for First Liberty Institute.  “If thousands of people can peacefully protest in the streets under the First Amendment, certainly churches are able to safely resume in-person religious gatherings.”

“It is time for government officials to stop these discriminatory orders that single out churches,” Andrew Beckwith of the Massachusetts Family Institute said.  “Churches in Massachusetts are vital to our communities and just want to be treated with respect and fairness.”

Despite Governor Baker’s clear direction, Mayor Curtatone arbitrarily requires all places of worship in Somerville to limit attendance to no more than 10 congregants.  On May 18, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued Order 33 providing that churches and other places of worship “may open [their] premises to workers . . . and the public” so long as such places of worship followed specific health and safety guidelines and limit to 40 percent occupancy.  Further, Governor Baker’s order clearly states that “[n]o municipal or other local authority should adopt or enforce any workplace health or safety rule to address COVID-19 that is in addition to, stricter than, or otherwise in conflict with any COVID-19 workplace safety rule adopted in [Order 33].”

According to the 4-page plan submitted to Mayor Curtatone by Somerville area churches on Wednesday, they will meet in-person this Sunday under 40% of their maximum permitted occupancy level. Masks or face coverings will be required for those attending and persons not of the same immediate household will be required to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. The churches will also instruct members and staff that if they are feeling sick or have been exposed to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 that they should not attend in-person.


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 or by calling 972-941-4453.

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