Ep. 10: Lawsuits challenging COVID-19 directives

Apr 23, 2020

As religious communities deal with bans on mass gatherings, legal disputes are popping up across the country. What’s happening now, and what could we see more of when the country begins lifting restrictions? This week, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman examine the key issues in these lawsuits (starting at 12:45) and talk about how courts are ruling in the various cases, including drive-in church services (19:42). Plus, they share how they’re learning about other religious traditions as people of faith continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Segment 1: A patchwork of orders and how the vast majority of churches are responding (starting at 00:40)

Amanda mentioned this research from PRRI that shows most Americans stayed home for Easter and oppose religious exemptions to “stay-at-home” orders.

Amanda also mentioned this story in The Washington Post: Cellphone data shows coronavirus kept churchgoers at home in every state on Easter.

Amanda shared two tragic examples of the coronavirus impacting religious communities:

The church choir in Washington state that saw members fall ill with the coronavirus after a rehearsal in March.

The death of Bishop Gerald Glenn, the pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Richmond.

Amanda and Holly talked in general about cases and the three religious liberty principles to keep in mind on episode 8 of this podcast series. They also discussed “stay-at-home” orders on episode 6.


Segment 2: Lawsuits across the country, including drive-in churches (Starting at 17:25)

Holly mentioned DriveInMovie.com, a website with news and information about drive-in movie theaters.

Read the Department of Justice’s Statement of Interest in the Mississippi case about a church holding a service in a parking lot at this link.

For a look at some of the various cases being litigated, read this post on the “Latest News” section of our website.

Segment 3: Where did we see religion respected in our world? (starting at 41:37)

Holly talked about the American Humanist Association’s “Ask an Atheist” day, which included a Facebook Live from Greg M. Epstein, Harvard University’s humanist chaplain. You can watch it here.

Amanda mentioned this story by Aysha Khan for Religion News Service: Gift drive for the children of Muslim inmates seeks to serve the “hidden ummah.”


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