Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued an executive order in March to bar mass gatherings, including in-person church gatherings, because of COVID-19. One church sued, and the attorney general, Daniel Cameron, filed a brief in the case in support of the church.
From the Lexington Herald Leader (emphasis added):
In the brief entered by Deputy Attorney General Barry Dunn, Cameron’s office supports an injunction by Maryville Baptist Church that sought to block Beshear’s orders against holding in-person church services, according to court records. The church’s request for injunction is currently being appealed after U.S. District Court Judge David J. Hale denied it, saying that Beshear’s orders prohibiting mass gatherings did not single out religious expression.
Maryville Baptist Church and its pastor, Jack Roberts, filed the lawsuit against Beshear on April 17. The church defied Beshear’s orders against mass gatherings when it held in-person Easter services. The people who attended found that Kentucky State Police had left notices on their cars during the service ordering them to self-quarantine for 14 days.
In a statement, Cameron said the U.S. Constitution “and state law protect the rights of our citizens, of all faiths and backgrounds, to freely worship as they see fit. If a church wishes to hold an in-person service to practice their faith, they should be allowed to do so consistent with CDC recommendations. Other states have narrowly tailored their orders to protect the First Amendment rights of citizens while also discouraging the spread of COVID-19. Governor Beshear’s unnecessarily broad orders fail to strike this important balance.”
Cameron also threatened to sue the governor over the executive order:
“The governor should allow churches to resume in-person services consistent with the Constitution and CDC guidelines. And if he doesn’t, then we will be forced to file a lawsuit and allow a judge to determine if his order, as it pertains to religious groups, is constitutional.”
The governor denied that he’s targeting churches with the order.
A group of black pastors and “civil rights leaders” criticized Cameron, a black Republican, for opposing the governor’s order. From the Courier Journal:
“The virus is ravaging our Black communities,” the letter said, citing data that shows black Kentuckians are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than their white counterparts.
Black people make up 8.3% of Kentucky’s population, but account for 14% of those testing positive for COVID-19 and 22% of COVID-19 deaths.
“We find it alarming, reckless and counterproductive, that given these numbers and their impact on the Black community, that the Attorney General Daniel Cameron would state and take steps that align himself with actions which have been, will be and are detrimental to the Black community,” the group said.
Do you agree with Governor Andy Beshear or Attorney General Daniel Cameron?