A Louisville church on Tuesday reached an agreement with the mayor allowing it to hold drive-in-services, less than two weeks after the mayor banned such services and a federal judge overturned the mayor’s order.
The agreement allows On Fire Christian Church to hold drive-in services in their parking lot consistent with CDC guidelines. Cars must be parked at least six feet apart and attendees must remain in their cars. Additionally, windows can be no more than half-way open.
“We are grateful to Mayor Fischer and Louisville city officials who worked with us to ensure their policies are both consistent with the Constitution and the CDC’s guidelines,” said Roger Byron, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, which was one of three legal organizations to represent the church. The others were WilmerHale and Swansburg & Smith.
“During this challenging time, we need to see more of this kind of cooperation between government officials and the religious community,” Byron added.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer thanked the church “for their recognition of the need for social distancing as we battle this deadly pandemic,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
“My goal all along has been to protect the citizens of Louisville Metro from this dreadful COVID-19 virus, and I believe this Agreed Order accomplishes that goal,” Fischer said.
On April 11 – the Saturday prior to Easter – U.S. District Judge Justin R. Walker issued a temporary restraining order against the mayor’s prohibition.
“On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter,” Walker wrote. “That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion. But two days ago, citing the need for social distancing during the current pandemic, Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer ordered Christians not to attend Sunday services, even if they remained in their cars to worship – and even though it’s Easter.
“The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”
Photo courtesy: On Fire Christian Church Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.