Just days after Catholic and Lutheran churches announced they would defy the state's stay-at-home orders that prohibited services with more than 10 people, Minnesota succumbed to the pressure and lifted its restrictions.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit group representing the churches, sent a letter to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz warning him that his office was violating the First Amendment since it was allowing other businesses to reopen at 50% capacity while limiting church services to fewer than 10 people.
"We were disappointed to find... you allowed retail and other non-critical businesses to open, setting a plan in place for bars and restaurants to reopen while limiting churches to meetings of  people or fewer," the letter read. "In the absence of a timeline or any other assurances that churches will soon be able to reopen, we find that we must move forward with our religious exercise in a safe manner."
The state will now allow churches to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 250 people attending, effective May 27.
Becket applauded the governor's reversal and hoped it would urge other states to follow suit.
"Minnesota is setting an example by recognizing the importance of giving equal treatment to churches and other houses of worship, and that worship services can be conducted safely, cooperatively, and responsibly," a spokesperson for Becket said. "Other closed-church states are on notice."