Two cities revise rules on drive-in church amid virus

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This image provided by Alliance Defending Freedom shows the sign for parking lot church services outside of Temple Baptist Church in Greenville, Miss., on April 9, 2020. The Justice Department has weighed in on a local Mississippi case involving a church that says its religious freedoms were violated. Temple Baptist in Greenville has been holding drive-in services for congregants during the coronavirus outbreak. (Alliance Defending Freedom via AP)

The United States has been turned into a kind of leftist utopia in the past six weeks, with government officials regulating worship, banning commerce and dictating who works, who travels and who gets paid, but there are signs that the grip of this experiment in liberalism is loosening in many places.

One place is Mississippi, reports the Detroit News, where a city facing freedom-of-religion lawsuits and pressure from the U.S. attorney general has revised its ban on drive-up church services during the coronavirus outbreak, now saying the services are allowable.

With windows rolled up.

Also, officials in Chemung County, NY stated on April 23 that it the county will once again respect drive-in church services.  The change came about a day after First Liberty Institute sent the county executive a letter warning that its previous stay-at-home policy was inconsistent with the Constitution, federal law, and CDC guidelines.

First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom

“We are pleased that Chemung county officials responded quickly and appropriately and clarified their policies to comply with the Constitution,” said Keisha Russell, Counsel for First Liberty.  “Cooperation between government officials and the religious community during times of crisis is essential.”

In Mississippi, the Greenville City Council made changes on April 21. The Justice Department has also stepped in, taking the rare step last week of backing a church that sued over the city’s limits on worship.

Greenville’s new policy removes the distinction between drive-up church services and other types of drive-up activity, including picking up food at restaurants. It says, for example, that customers may open windows to get food but must keep them shut while sitting in the car to eat.

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