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'Re-Open Church Sunday': Justice Dept. Pushes Back as State and Local Governments Threaten Religious Liberties

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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions on church services and other gatherings have become a top religious freedom issue. This has led to lawsuits against a handful of states, questioning whether protecting public health overrules the constitutional rights of Americans. 

"If I don't exercise my right, I feel that I will lose my right and my right to religion is one that has been fought for for centuries," said Randall David, the plaintiff in a Kentucky lawsuit.

Kentucky and eight other states have been slapped with lawsuits, accused of going too far in cracking down on religious liberty.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Mississippi churchgoers, suing local government officials after being fined $500 each for attending a drive-in church service. 

"It's just funny how they can pick and choose winners and losers, who can stay open, Walmart's always packed, Home Depot, Lowes, grocery stores are always packed, but for some reason suddenly it's dangerous if you go to church," Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. told CBN News.

Tuesday in New York City, crowds packed public parks to watch a flyover tribute by the Thunder Birds and Blue Angels – the city doing nothing to call people out for violating social distancing orders in that case. Later that night, however, the mayor issued a strong warning to Orthodox Jews gathered in Brooklyn for the funeral of a local rabbi.

READ 'Scapegoating Jews': NYC Mayor de Blasio Under Fire for Twitter Tirade Against Jewish Funeral 

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeting out:

In a memo, Attorney General William Barr has urged the nation's federal prosecutors to "be on the lookout" for state and local coronavirus-related restrictions that could be unconstitutional.

As many churches, this weekend, take part in what's being called "Re-Open Church Sunday," groups like the Family Research Council urge people to fellowship safely, using appropriate sanitation practices and adhering to social distancing guidelines.


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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT