Federal Judge Blocks Gov. Kelly’s Limit on Church Gatherings in Kansas
Joe Denoyer - April 18, 2020 9:25 pm
A federal judge has blocked Kansas from limiting attendance at in-person religious worship services or activities to 10 or fewer congregation members to check the spread of the coronavirus.
The decision Saturday from U.S. District Judge John Broomes in Wichita signaled that he believes there’s a good chance the policy violates religious freedom and free speech rights.
Broomes’ ruling prevents the enforcement of an order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly on April 7. His decision will remain in effect until May 2. He has a hearing set for Wednesday in a lawsuit filed against Kelly by two churches and their pastors.
The lawsuit over church gatherings was filed Thursday by First Baptist Church in Dodge City and Pastor Stephen Ormond and Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City and Pastor Aaron Harris. The lawsuit said both churches held indoor Easter services with 20 or more members of the congregation present.
Broomes’ order does not let the churches have services without any restrictions. Instead, he ordered them to abide by recommendations for social distancing that people stay 6 feet apart and to continue following other practices the lawsuit said they had imposed, such as not using collection plates.