‘Irreparable injury’: MA pastor sues over governor’s coronavirus order restricting religious services

By Mary Margaret Olohan

A Massachusetts pastor filed a lawsuit that seeks a temporary restraining order preventing the enforcement of Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s coronavirus order restricting religious services.

Adams Square Baptist Church pastor Kris Casey filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Boston Wednesday over the governor’s March 23 order preventing gatherings of more than 10 people, according to the New Boston Post.

Casey, who has not responded to a request for comment, has held five church services with several dozen people present that took place on April 26, May 3, May 6, May 10, and May 13, the publication reports. Worcester police have submitted a criminal complaint against the pastor, who has also been hit with a $300 civil penalty, according to the New Boston Post.

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker

Critics of Baker’s order say that it violates their rights guaranteed in the First Amendment to practice their religion and question why Baker has classed certain activities and stores as essential while restricting religious services.

“The Order is not a neutral law of general applicability because it targets Constitutionally protected activity, while significantly burdening the Plaintiffs’ right to the freedom of religion and assembly, establishing an orthodox form of religious exercise approved by the Commonwealth, all the while providing broad exemptions for many activities that are not constitutionally protected, all without due process of law,” Casey says in his May 13 complaint, which was signed by his attorneys, Carl F. Schmitt and David Gibbs Jr., the New Boston Post reports.

Casey also notes that in-person religious services, rather than virtual or online services, are central components of his religious beliefs and that the government does not have the right to determine what religious practices are acceptable. His complaint also warns that unless he subscribes to “what Governor Baker has established as orthodox in a worship service,” he risks “civil and criminal penalties, including imprisonment.”

“Absent emergency relief from this Court, the Church, Pastor Casey, and all members and/or attendees will suffer immediate and irreparable injury from the threat of civil and criminal prosecution for the mere act of engaging in the free exercise of religion and in assembling for worship,” Casey’s complaint says.

Neither Baker nor the Worcester police department responded to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Casey’s case comes as pastors and churches across the nation face continuing restrictions on in person religious services. Attorney General William Barr has issued multiple statements on the importance of respecting religious liberty “even in times of emergency” and intervened in cases of government crackdowns on churches and pastors.

“Government may not impose special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar nonreligious activity,” the attorney general said in an early April statement. “For example, if a government allows movie theaters, restaurants, concert halls, and other comparable places of assembly to remain open and unrestricted, it may not order houses of worship to close, limit their congregation size, or otherwise impede religious gatherings.”

The DOJ also intervened in the case of a Mississippi church’s lawsuit in early April, siding with Temple Baptist Church after police officers issued hefty tickets to church goers who refused to leave a drive-in service. In the beginning of May, the Justice Department sided with a Virginia church suing Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

And on Friday, an Oklahoma mayor reversed her order and allowed churches to reopen for Mother’s Day following a warning from the Justice Department.

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5 thoughts on “‘Irreparable injury’: MA pastor sues over governor’s coronavirus order restricting religious services

  1. I thought a pastor was supposed to lead the flock to a better life and not lead it over a cliff? He should know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    • They do lead the flock and you show extensive ignorance of God’s Word. In it, believers ared told not to forsake the assembling together of the church. Yet, the government claims it has the authority to counter the Word. So when it comes to church business, why don’t you mind your own?

    • They show them how to spot lies and propaganda….something Vermonters seem unable to do. It’s why dictators world wide hate God and the bible, it totally exposes them.

  2. Innocent, healthy people, who have committed no crime, done nothing wrong, come together to speak of Love, Joy and Peace……get a fine?

    There is a reason why dictators and oligarchs hate the Bible with a vengeance. There is a reason why other Theocracies are embraced. The bible teaches people how to recognize a lie. It’s a basic tool. It explains in great detail how countries fail and why. It explains how to function and thrive in a society in any evil place to which man can create.

    It shows people how to experience Love, Joy and Peace, the first fruits of the Holy Spirit.

    Vermont is so naïve, in a large part because it has rejected the teachings of Solomon for example. Anybody who reads this work, from the richest and wisest man to ever grace our planet, a book written to advise his own children can’t be moved by what wonderful teachings he gives. If you have years under your belt and have seen a few things, if like me, I’m thinking God if I had read half of this when younger, studied this to any degree, how much better and fulfilling would my life have been?

    Churches are being infiltrated by other teachings not of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. This may be even worse. Many profess social justice as the Gospel and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    The bible teaches you how to see through propaganda, how to know peoples hearts, leaders hearts, it is the most wonderful book ever written, and before reading it I would have said, Why do people study this book of fairy tales? Was I ever wrong.

    North Korea does stuff like this, it’s why they jail and kill people for even brining this one book into the country. That is how powerful the book is. They talk about the armor of God. And the sword is often overlooked. The sword of God is his words, the truth, love. God’s word would do more for Vermont than anything, if we only read the darn thing, and if like me you need the study bible because you don’t really know what’s going on without it.

    Not lost on my now, Yuri Bezmanov, a KGB agent who’s job was to subvert country’s said the way to save a country was from God and learning his ways. Goes to show the two most corrupt areas in the Nation, Vermont and Washington D.C are also the least educated in the ways of God, Truth and Love. TBTG

  3. Freedom of religion, guess they didn’t read about that one, liberals
    only follow what they want !!

    Let’s see Vermont we have a Socialist Senator and a statehouse full of
    full of liberal hacks…………. what a shame, we should hang our heads !!

    Just look at the financial condition of our state, do to liberals.

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