Americans can "expect action from the DOJ" this week to limit the power of local and state governments to stop religious services from happening, DOJ Director of Communications Kerri Kupec said Saturday.
During this sacred week for many Americans, AG Barr is monitoring govt regulation of religious services. While social distancing policies are appropriate during this emergency, they must be applied evenhandedly & not single out religious orgs. Expect action from DOJ [this] week!
The move comes as some churches across the nation are defying local government orders to cease having services — even drive-in services where congregants stay in their own vehicles, even on Easter, one of Christianity's most important days.
- In Mississippi, police fined Christians $500 for attending a drive-in service where they all stayed inside their vehicles and listened to the preacher on the radio (the church has since sued the police department).
- In Louisville, a church is suing the mayor for prohibiting drive-in Easter services, even while encouraging drive-in dining.
- Also in Kentucky, the governor announced Friday that police would record the license plate numbers of anyone caught attending Easter church services and report them to their local health departments who would then visit their homes and order them to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
The current orders "target churches in a way that it targets no other group," said Kelly Shackelford, president of the First Liberty Institute. "Cars in parking lots are fine. It's only a crime if the cars in the parking lot are at the church parking lot."