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Religious Liberty Law Firm Urges Louisville, KY Mayor to Allow Easter Drive-Through Service at Local Church

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April 9, 2020

News Release
For Immediate Release: 4.9.20
Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

Religious Liberty Law Firm Urges Louisville, KY Mayor to Allow Easter Drive-Through Service at Local Church
Mayor’s policy singles out religious gathering in a manner inconsistent with CDC Guidelines, state and federal law

Louisville, KY—First Liberty Institute and network attorneys with WilmerHale today sent a letter to Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer urging him to allow churches to hold drive-in services during the COVID-19 pandemic.  First Liberty represents On Fire Christian Church in Louisville.

You can read First Liberty’s letter here.

“The mayor is dealing with a tremendously difficult situation, and we applaud his work to protect the city and its residents,” said Roger Byron, Senior Counsel at First Liberty.  “We consistently have advised religious institutions to follow the CDC’s guidelines and avoid mass gatherings.  The prohibition of drive-in church services goes beyond those guidelines, however, and unlawfully targets houses of worship.  Many churches across the nation are holding drive-in services to balance the spiritual and physical health of their communities.”

On Fire Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky has been hosting drive-in church services in its parking lot for several weeks consistent with CDC guidelines and again plans to host a drive-in church service this Sunday for Easter.  In addition to cars being parked six feet apart, all congregants will remain in their cars with windows no more than half open for the entirety of the service.  Multiple security personnel will be present to ensure proper spacing between cars and orderly compliance with all guidelines.

In its letter, First Liberty explains that, “Your prohibition of religious gatherings of this type on Easter, regardless of the precautions taken, is not permitted under both federal and Kentucky state law.  Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Act prohibits government officials from substantially burdening religious exercise without demonstrating that the restriction advances a compelling interest by the least restrictive means.  The First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause imposes a similar standard when government action targets religious exercise.”

Matthew Martens, partner at WilmerHale added, “The Church will continue to work with the mayor and the city to keep everyone safe and well.  It is committed to gathering for Easter in a manner consistent with CDC guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved.”

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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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