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

Prominent evangelical church is the first to sue D.C. over covid-19 worship limits

Sep 23, 2020

By Michelle Boorstein

A large, prominent evangelical Capitol Hill church late Tuesday filed a legal challenge to the District, alleging the city government is violating the First Amendment by facilitating and tolerating massive anti-racism protests but forbidding worship services — indoor or outdoor — of more than 100 because of covid-19.

The complaint filed by the 850-member Capitol Hill Baptist Church is the first legal challenge by a religious organization to the capital’s coronavirus restrictions. There have been two others in the region — one in Virginia and one in Maryland — since quarantine measures began, and final decisions are pending in both.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, challenges the city’s limits on worship generally, but asks specifically only for the right to meet outdoors. It notes that Bowser appeared at a huge anti-racism rally in June, that the city police have been assigned to such events and that her office has not enforced its own ban on outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people.

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