"My Trusty Gavel" by Brian Turner / CC BY 2.0

Kansas churches, pastors sue Gov. Kelly over coronavirus ban on religious gatherings

Apr 17, 2020

By Jason Tidd

Two Kansas churches and their pastors are suing the governor over her executive order that bans mass religious gatherings due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Wichita by Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City and pastor Aaron Harris and First Baptist Church in Dodge City and pastor Stephen Ormond. They are being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is the only defendant.

The federal lawsuit follows a narrow decision by the Kansas Supreme Court on Saturday that allowed Kelly’s mass gathering ban to prohibit religious services with more than 10 people. The ruling came before Easter Sunday worship services, and justices did not consider the constitutionality of the order relating to religious liberty.

The churches and their pastors are asking a federal judge to issue an injunction prohibiting Kelly’s executive order from being enforced, allowing churches to meet in-person with more than 10 people. The pastors also seek a declaration that the executive order violates the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the Kansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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