A victory for religious freedom took place today in North Carolina. Judge James C. Dever III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled that Governor Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order violates the First Amendment by prohibiting indoor church services of more than 10 people. The Berean Baptist Church and its pastor Dr. Ronnie Baity, the People’s Baptist Church, and the organization Return America sued the governor, and the court granted their request for an emergency temporary restraining order, preventing the church service ban from being enforced.
Here’s a quote from the ruling:
“There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution of the United States or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Free Exercise claim concerning the assembly for religious worship provisions in Executive Order 138, that they will suffer irreparable harm absent a temporary restraining order, that the equities tip in their favor, and that a temporary restraining order is in the public interest. Thus, having considered the entire record and governing law, the court grants plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order.”
The full ruling can be read here.