The battle over church attendance and religious liberty has been the major focus of Kelly Shackelford and the First Liberty Institute. He writes about it in his article in Newsweek. When the lockdown began, I suspect that he and the other lawyers at his organization wondered what they might be doing. They didn’t have to wait very long.
Governors and mayors began to issue orders that seemed to be focused on closing down church services while other establishments remained open. In Mississippi, police surrounded a pastor holding a drive-in service where members remained in their cars with their windows up. One officer announced that his “rights were suspended.”
Louisville’s mayor announced a prohibition against any Easter church service gatherings. Meanwhile, other citizens in the city were allowed to frequent a local drive-in restaurant. That’s when First Liberty had to act and received a favorable ruling from Judge Justin Walker. That proved to be the legal “shot heard around the world.” It not only helped open up various church services but other parts of the American economy.
Kelly Shackelford acknowledges that the battle for religious liberty and church services is not over. “As we are coming out of the pandemic, we cannot let the new normal be one where our liberties are restricted.” These court decisions are helping to curb the temptation of governors and mayors to assert power over the people that is not justified in the constitution.
He concludes that freedom (especially religious freedom) is something that “realigns the boundaries that ensure self-government and lead to human flourishing.” This nation was born as an experiment in freedom, and we cannot let the current need to protect the health of Americans be a justification for eroding the foundations of freedom upon which this nation was built.