Mississippi Church Sues City after Police Ticket Congregants Attending Drive-in Service
A Mississippi church is fighting back against the city of Greenville after authorities shut down its drive-in service.
According to Fox News, Temple Baptist Church in Greenville, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, is suing the city.
The Greenville Police Department has not commented.
The suit comes after Grenville Mayor Errick Simmons approved an executive order on April 7 that prohibits drive-in services until the state’s shelter-in-place is lifted.
Reports say eight Greenville police officers issued $500 tickets to congregants who refused to leave a parking lot where Temple Baptist Church was having a drive-in service last week.
“Government is clearly overstepping its authority when it singles out churches for punishment, especially in a ridiculous fashion like this,” said ADF senior counsel Ryan Tucker, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “In Greenville, you can be in your car at a drive-in restaurant, but you can’t be in your car at a drive-in church service. That’s not only nonsensical, it’s unconstitutional, too.”
Representatives from the Alliance Defending Freedom says church members stayed in their cars with their windows rolled up during the service. It was the third week the church had been conducting drive-in services.
Another church in Greenville, the King James Bible Baptist Church, also had their drive-in services shut down by police last week.
Many local governments in the U.S. have struggled with how to safely limit church services amid the coronavirus pandemic. While many churches have turned to online services, others are hosting drive-in services, the National Review reports.
But it’s unclear for many officials if drive-in services are a best practice. In Wilmington, North Carolina, the police department says believers should stick to online services as drive-in services could be “unnecessarily risky.”
The city of Louisville, Kentucky, like Greenville, Mississippi, has also prohibited drive-in services, and police officers have been asked to record license plates at drive-in services so authorities can impose a 14-day quarantine on those who attend drive-in services. A judge, however, has granted a temporary restraining order against the mayor’s prohibition on drive-in services.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Valery Yurasov
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.