The Daily Caller reports, a federal judge on Saturday blocked Kansas from limiting attendance at in-person religious services or activities to 10 or fewer people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Wichita U.S. District Judge John Broomes blocked the order issued by Governor Laura Kelly (D), which sought to prohibit attendance at religious services to ten people or fewer. “Broomes’s ruling prevents Kelly’s enforcement of the order as long as pastors and congregations observe social distancing, Politico reports. Broome’s decision will remain in effect until May 2.”
“Churches and religious activities appear to have been singled out among essential functions for stricter treatment,” the judge wrote in his order.
“This is not about religion,” the Kansas governor said in a statement following the decision. “This is about a public health crisis.”
Broomes’s ruling comes after Attorney General William Barr released a statement on religious practices and social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic saying that that “even in times of emergency,” federal law prohibits religious discrimination.
“Thus, government may not impose special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar nonreligious activity,” Barr said.
“For example, if a government allows movie theaters, restaurants, concert halls, and other comparable places of assembly to remain open and unrestricted, it may not order houses of worship to close, limit their congregation size, or otherwise impede religious gatherings.”
He added: “Religious institutions must not be singled out for special burdens.”