October 23, 2020 | CNN | Source
“Judge Daniel D. Domenico sided with the churches and found the state’s restrictions violate the Constitution.”
“(CNN) – As the US enters what experts say will be another Covid-19 surge, a federal judge ruled two Colorado churches don’t have to limit how many worshippers come in and don’t have to require them to wear face coverings.
Colorado set guidelines earlier this year for places of worship that include ensuring all attendees wear face coverings. Guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say places of worship should “encourage use of masks among staff and congregants.” And as the virus now runs rampant across many US communities, experts have said face coverings and social distancing remain the country’s most powerful tools against Covid-19 ahead of a vaccine.
But following a lawsuit against state and federal officials by Pastor Robert A. Enyart of Denver Bible Church and Pastor Joey Rhoads of Community Baptist Church, Judge Daniel D. Domenico sided with the churches and found the state’s restrictions violate the Constitution.
The judge said that while the state may have made the decisions in good faith, “the Constitution does not allow the State to tell a congregation how large it can be when comparable secular gatherings are not so limited, or to tell a congregation that its reason for wishing to remove facial coverings is less important than a restaurant’s or spa’s,” according to court documents.
The state’s orders, court documents said, “treat houses of worship different from comparable secular institutions.”
“We have a right, even an obligation to worship him [God], and that’s without government interference,” Enyart told CNN following the judge’s decision.
“The government has put artificial limits on how many people could attend. And those limits make it pretty much impossible for families to know if they could come to church,” he added. “It is too arbitrary, and we are so thankful this federal judge rules gave us (this) preliminary injunction to strike down the one arbitrary limit and the mask requirement.””