State Watch

Mississippi mayor reverses, will allow drive-in church with windows up

BRIDGET BENNETT/AFP via Getty Images
Attendees gather in their cars for a drive-in Easter service amid the Coronavirus pandemic at the International Church of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, April 12, 2020. – The United States passed the grim milestone of 20,000 coronavirus deaths on April 11, 2020 as huge swaths of the globe celebrated the Easter…

The mayor of Greenville, Miss., reversed his previous decision and will allow people to attend drive-in church services during the coronavirus pandemic — as long as they keep their windows rolled up, The Associated Press reports.

Mayor Errick D. Simmons’s Wednesday reversal came after he faced backlash and legal battles over his decision to close churches as long as the state’s stay-at-home order remained in place. 

Simmons said people can now attend drive-in church services but must keep their windows up, according to the AP.

The mayor also reportedly said he would allow local churches to have up to 10 people in a building at a time for worship services that are also shown on TV or radio as long as people inside the church follow social distancing guidelines. 

Greenville leaders put a local order in place on April 7 that said all churches in the city would be closed for in-person and drive-in services as the statewide stay-at-home order was in place, according to AP. 

A day after the order, police issued $500 tickets to people attending drive-in church services. 

Conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Greenville order. Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department filed a memo in support of the Mississippi church Tuesday. 

Barr said the government “may not impose special restrictions” on religious gatherings. 

“Even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers,” Barr said in a statement.

Tags Coronavirus Mississippi William Barr

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