Judge rules against Kansas governor’s order limiting in-person church gatherings

The Wichita Eagle:

A U.S. District Court of Kansas judge issued a temporary restraining order on Saturday against part of Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order that limited church gatherings to 10 or fewer people, a ruling that paves the way for in-person religious services without violating the law.

The ruling is the latest in a saga about religious freedom that caught national attention after Kelly signed an order banning the gatherings, which had already been in effect amid the coronavirus pandemic, but added “churches or other religious facilities” to the list five days before Easter.

The addition sparked a board of the state’s top legislators overriding the order and then the Kansas Supreme Court striking down the override. The Kansas court never ruled on the constitutionality of the order, which is what was brought up in a lawsuit filed Thursday by a couple of pastors and their two churches.

The order requires the two churches to practice social distancing and continue health protocols the churches started before the limitation on gatherings. Broomes also added a list of 24 protocols the churches need to follow, including attendees checking body temperatures before attending and having a single point of entry and exit on opposite sides of the building.

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Ryan Tucker said they are pleased with the outcome.

“In light of the court’s order, we hope the governor will act quickly to remedy the unconstitutional provision of her mass gathering ban and avoid the need for continued litigation,” Tucker said in a news release.

Kelly said the ruling is not the end.

Read more at The Wichita Eagle

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