The District of Colombia will pay the Capitol Hill Baptist Church $220,000 to settle a lawsuit over religious restrictions.
“The District agrees that it will not enforce any current or future COVID-19 restrictions to prohibit CHBC from gathering as one congregation,” reads the settlement. Continuing, the agreement states restrictions on the church will not be more limiting than “comparable secular activities, as defined by the Supreme Court.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration will pay church lawyers at WilmerHale and the First Liberty Institute, an organization dedicated to fighting for religious liberty. During the COVID-19 induced lockdowns, churches were prohibited from hosting large gatherings, a legal violation of first amendment rights.
CHBC, like many other churches, disregarded government restrictions and continued to meet outdoors. During a preliminary injunction last fall, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden supported the church. He said that DC “has not shown that it is likely to prove a compelling interest in prohibiting the Church from holding outdoor worship services with appropriate precautions, or that its restrictions are the least restrictive means available to achieve its public health objectives.”
Last month, a Canadian pastor was dramatically arrested for violating government restrictions. According to Canadian law, the pastor was arrested for organizing an “illegal in-person gathering,” in addition to “requesting, inciting or inviting others.” Across the country, American churches are engaged in lawsuits regarding egregious fines and unconstitutional restrictions.
In April, the Supreme Court struck down Governor Gavin Newsom’s restrictions on religious gatherings. The court awarded California pastors with their request to lift Covid-19 related restrictions on Bible Study and prayer meetings because they found that the regulations violate the First Amendment’s protections of religion.
ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WASHINGTON POST
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