NY pastor threatened with $1,000 fine for holding drive-in church service

Pastor Samson Ryman, who leads Central Bible Baptist Church in upstate New York, was threatened by the Massena Police Department that he could face a $1,000 fine for violating Gov. Cuomo's stay-at-home orders. (Courtesy of Central Bible Baptist Church)

It took only about a month for the United States of America to turn into a country where police go after pastors and church meetings are forbidden.

But the country continues to fight back, a recent example being a New York state church that held a drive-in service on May 18 after being warned by police that they could face a $1,000 fine for violating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pastor Samson Ryman, who leads the 40-member Central Bible Baptist Church in upstate New York, held his first drive-in service on May. Some 23 people attended in 18 vehicles. The following day the Massena Police Department gave an informal cease-and-desist order to the pastor.

“I was kind of shocked by that,” Ryman said to Fox News. He said he had gotten permission from state and local officials before holding the service.

“We’re not trying to be rebellious,” Ryman explained. “We’re just trying to be safe and reach our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ in these difficult times when people are having anxiety, worry, different mental concerns, and they want to get some spiritual help, through the word of God, some hope, and I believe we can do that safely with a drive-in.”

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, sent a letter to the police department on May 15 informing them that legal action would be taken if police tried to enforce their order.

“We do have the law behind us,” John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, told Fox News. “I think they got the message so far.

“You shouldn’t be shutting down churches,” Whitehead said. “If you can go to bars and get carry-out…this doesn’t make any sense. Let people worship safely and let’s get back to normal and above all, let’s protect our Constitution.”

A federal court in Kentucky recently ruled that churches may hold drive-in services even when government officials forbid it.


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