Missouri church wins $150,000 in settlement with county over ‘discriminatory’ COVID rules

Missouri church wins $150,000 in settlement with county over ‘discriminatory’ COVID rules


A Baptist megachurch reached a settlement with Jackson County, Missouri, after the county restricted services to no more than 10 people last spring.

A Baptist megachurch reached a settlement with Jackson County, Missouri, after the county restricted services to no more than 10 people last spring.

JACKSON COUNTY, Missouri (LifeSiteNews) – A Missouri county agreed to pay almost $150,000 to a local church that sued officials last year over “discriminatory” COVID-19 restrictions.

Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, approved a settlement with Abundant Life Baptist Church (ALBC) on Monday after the Baptist megachurch filed a federal lawsuit alleging that health orders issued by the county “impermissibly discriminate[d] against religiously-motivated gatherings.”

The majority-Democrat Jackson County legislature approved the $146,750 settlement in a 6-2 vote, the Kansas City Star reported. The legislature also agreed that future restrictions would not disproportionately impact churches.

Last May, Jackson County limited church services to 10 people amid COVID-19, defining indoor worship as “large gatherings or social events.” Retail stores, restaurants, and other “non-essential” businesses, however, were permitted to open with social distance measures at 10% or 25% capacity, depending on size.

ALBC’s largest facility can hold up to 4,740 people, according to the group’s lawsuit, filed May 7 in the U.S. District Court for Western District of Missouri.

“Because Defendants have classified Plaintiff’s ‘church’ activities as ‘non-essential’ and/or ‘large gatherings or social events,’ Plaintiff will only be able to admit ten total persons – counting the pastor and staff – to worship services on May 17, 2020,” the lawsuit stated. “If Abundant Life were to engage in retail sales, or served food and liquor as a bar, rather than religious worship at its Lee’s Summit location, Jackson County’s Phase I plan would allow 474 people in the building at a time while meeting or exceeding the CDC’s guidelines.”

“Defendants’ orders impermissibly discriminate against religiously-motivated gatherings, and in favor of commercially-motivated gatherings.”

ALBC’s complaint noted that the group was “forced to cancel or turn away persons from services of corporate worship and to reduce ministry to members and the public or use less effective methods such as internet streaming services” under Jackson County’s health plan. The megachurch, which runs a food bank and education services, also had to cut activities not defined by the county as “Essential Business,” including “social services for disadvantaged persons.”

Read More

redditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail