The Capitol Hill Baptist Church has filed a lawsuit against Washington, D.C., for restricting worship services that were implemented to stop the spread of the CCP Virus.
Restrictions that did not apply to the large groups that roamed the city streets and camped out in parks amid the protests that have shaken cities since George Floyd’s death, Breitbart News reported.
For several months, Washington’s streets were overrun by violent social protests in the name of so-called social justice and racial equality. Properties were destroyed, businesses looted, and police officers injured. But Mayor Muriel Bowser, like her Democratic colleagues, did not seem to care much. Interestingly, according to the complaint, she preferred to concentrate on suppressing religious gatherings.
Mark Dever is the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist, which has a congregation of about 1,000 members. He argued in the lawsuit that Bowser’s restrictions are unconstitutional as they infringe on citizens’ rights to assemble freely and exercise their religious beliefs as reflected in the Constitution.
Bowser’s restrictions stipulate that only 100 people or less can gather inside a church, depending on the size of the building. Many churches can receive more than a thousand believers.
As reporter Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today pointed out, the lawsuit filed on Tuesday said, “Meeting as a church in a single worship service is an essential component of the exercise of religion.”
The Capitol Hill Baptist Church, does not stream its services online and decided that it would not do so during the restrictions imposed by the virus.
According to the lawsuit, the First Amendment to the Constitution protects both mass protests and religious worship.
The church clarified that it is not against the free demonstration of people, but wanted to highlight the differentiation made when applying unequal restrictions between the church and the protesters, asking for similar conditions.
In a message via Twitter, the Capitol Baptist Church uploaded a video explaining the importance of meeting in person, saying that virtual meetings could never replace them.
“Why do Christians gather? We believe this is core to who we are as a church,” the Twitter message said.
Why do Christians gather? We believe this is core to who we are as a church.https://t.co/9EIJJId2cu
— Capitol Hill Baptist Church (@chbcdc) September 23, 2020
Capitol Hill Baptist canceled services from mid-March to early June. It began meeting in a field next to a Baptist congregation in Virginia, across the river, where religious events are allowed.
Now the church wants to have the option of meeting outdoors in Washington, but the mayor’s office has not yet responded to the request.