Federal Judge Says Kansas Churches Can Hold Worship Services despite 10 Person Gathering Limit

Amanda Casanova

A federal judge decided this week that Kansas churches may hold worship services despite an executive order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people.

U.S. District Court Judge John W. Broomes of the District of Kansas issued an order on Saturday approving a temporary exception to the order, The Christian Post reports.

The decision came after Pastor Stephen Ormord of First Baptist Church of Dodge City and Pastor Aaron Harris of Calvary Baptist Church of Junction City filed a complaint against the executive order.

Broomes said in his ruling that churches were “likely to prevail on” the claim that prohibiting in-person services violated their religious freedom.

“Plaintiffs have made a substantial showing that development of the current restriction on religious activities shows religious activities were specifically targeted for more onerous restrictions than comparable secular activities,” he said.

The churches are now hoping to request an injunction to the order. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The week before Easter Sunday, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly approved an executive order issued an executive order banning gatherings of over 10 people, including religious services.

“As Holy Week gets underway — and with Kansas rapidly approaching its projected ‘peak’ infection rate in the coming weeks — the risk for a spike in COVID-19 cases through church gatherings is especially dangerous,” she said.

“I’ve said repeatedly during this crisis that we will adjust to circumstances as they develop to make sure we do everything we can to protect Kansans.”

Other states are also struggling with how to handle church services and restrictions on gatherings.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order bans gatherings of more than 50 people, except for "a place of religious worship."

“That's an area that we don't have the ability to directly enforce and control. We are encouraging people, though, do not congregate,” she said.

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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.