CV NEWS FEED // A federal judge ruled against Washington D.C.’s onerous restrictions on churches Thursday, freeing up worshippers considerably just ahead of Holy Week.
Judge Trevor McFadden wrote that D.C. lockdown orders “discriminate against houses of worship:”
The District’s order states that “houses of worship may admit no more than” the lesser of 25 percent of their capacity or 250 persons. …Yet, after the District’s repeal of the same limit on “[f]ood sellers and big box stores selling a range of essential and non-essential goods,” those entities are subject to no maximum-capacity limitations. …In practical terms, this means that the Archdiocese’s churches must stop admitting parishioners once they become a quarter full, but Whole Foods or Target can take in as many customers as they wish while complying with social-distancing requirements.
Becket, a law firm which advocates for religious liberty and represented the Archdiocese of Washington in the suit that led to Thursday’s ruling, celebrated the news on social media.
“D.C’s discriminatory 250-person cap and 25% limit on church services are ending just in time for the Easter season,” the firm tweeted:
D.C. joins the 37 states that have no numerical or percentage caps on attendance at houses of worship. D.C. houses of worship are now free of arbitrary numerical limits and may welcome as many worshippers as can safely attend wearing masks and social distancing.
“Half of the [Diocese of Washington’s] churches can accommodate 500 or more people,” Becket argued. “The basilica by itself could house TWO Statues of Liberty.”
But as “Judge McFadden found, the district’s rules limited the Basilica to only ‘about eight percent of its capacity’—a limit that would not apply ‘if they hawked wares instead of proclaimed the Gospel.’”