When Judge Daniel D. Domenico issued his injunction against the orders of Governor Polis, he felt that he did not believe that the churches could show that most of their claims were brought to justice.
A federal judge has exempted Colorado churches from a state mandate that requires both the wearing of masks in public buildings and the enforcement of capacity quotas for the number of people allowed to gather indoors.
The verdict comes two months after the Denver Bible Church in Wheat Ridge and the Community Baptist Church in Brighton filed a lawsuit against the state.
In their complaint, the two communities alleged that Colorado public health regulations were too vague and violate freedom of religion.
Health mandates, suspected church leaders, and their legal counsel "restrict or prevent religious speech" based on "how close the plaintiffs' pastors can be to those in their parishes and how close the parishioners can be to meet, pray, to speak, stand, sit, walk, sing, pray, hug, shake hands, smile or express your thoughts, opinions and feelings on your face. "
Following news of the court's decision, representatives from the two churches told news channels that they were satisfied with the verdict – and believe it was a step in the right direction to restore their religious freedom.
"We have a right, even an obligation to worship [God], without government interference," Pastor Robert A. Enyart told CNN.
“The government has set artificial limits on the number of people [worship services]. And those boundaries make it next to impossible for families to know if they could get to church, ”he added. "It's too arbitrary, and we're so grateful that this federal judge gave us [this] restraining order to remove that one arbitrary limit and mask requirement."
Interestingly, US District Judge Daniel D. Domenico said in his October 15 ruling that he did not believe the plaintiffs could prove that "most" of their claims against the Colorado government were brought to justice.
Even so, Domenico chose to give the churches an injunction preventing the state from enforcing its public health mandates in both places.
Individuals wearing masks during the coronavirus outbreak; Image via Pixabay. Public domain.
"This court has no doubt that the state made these decisions in good faith in order to weigh the benefits of increased public interaction against the additional risk involved," wrote Domenico. "But the Constitution doesn't allow the state to tell a church how big it can be if comparable secular assemblies are not so limited, or to tell a church that the reason for removing face coverings is less important than one Restaurants or spas. "
According to The Gazette – and as Domenico's own words suggest – the judge's decision focuses on broad provisions within Governor Jared Polis' public health ordinances.
In particular, Governor Polis' mandates set different requirements and restrictions for homes or church services compared to secular institutions such as public schools, supermarkets and commercial establishments.
However, Colorado has already challenged Domenico's decision. On Monday, the Attorney General's Office Philip J. Weiser filed an urgency motion to suspend Domenico's injunction pending the outcome of the appeal.
"Nothing in the defendant's public health ordinances reveals discrimination or bigotry against religion," the motion said. "If anything, the Colorado Orders treat religious organizations more favorably than their non-religious counterparts. The governor's executive order, which for example requires face masks in public spaces, exempts those who officiate at religious services."
CNN notes that several other states have faced mass coronavirus outbreaks that were later attributed to church services. For example, in West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice stated that at least 18 active outbreaks had occurred in places of worship.
"We all know the church is a place where this killer can really thrive," said Governor Justice. "We sing, we love to see all of those we love and who are with us in our church family."
"It's an absolute place a lot of our elderly go to," Justice added, "and we have to wear a mask, stay a bank apart, and from our elderly point of view, you can get your services online or something. " The."
Federal judges exempt religious services from Colorado's ceiling for indoor gatherings, mask mandate
Two churches in Colorado win lawsuits against state Covid-19 mask and crowd limit requirements