April 16, 2020: Churches sue Calif., DOJ defends churches, Bible reading up over 50%

Thursday, April 16, 2020:

Here are the latest headlines, brought to you by The Christian Post.

— Churches sue Calif. over order banning in-person religious services

Three churches filed a lawsuit against California’s Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom and local officials Monday over the state’s stay-at-home order that they say violates their freedom of religious practice.

The churches are opposed to Newsom’s Executive Order that compels California residents to “stay home or at their place of residence except” for essential activities that did not include in-person religious services.

In response to calls to curb the spread of the coronavirus, many states have issued orders calling for large gatherings, including religious ones, to temporarily quit meeting in person.

— $250K donated to help churches impacted by COVID-19

A new initiative championed by retired NFL tight end Benjamin Watson and the AND Campaign to help churches at risk of closing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised over $250,000 in its first week of fundraising. 

Organizers of the Churches Helping Churches Challenge announced Monday that over 50 churches have been chosen to receive grants from its COVID-19 Church Relief Fund as the initiative has already amassed half of its goal of raising $500,000 by the end of April.

— Pro-lifers can pray outside abortion clinics in Mich. during coronavirus shutdown, court rules

A Michigan judge ruled Tuesday that pro-life activists can pray outside abortion clinics even during the state’s stay-at-home order.

Police issued a ticket to Andrew Belanger, a member of the group ONElife for Life, for allegedly violating the governor’s stay-at-home executive order by demonstrating outside the Scotsdale Women’s Center in Detroit.

Belanger filed a lawsuit against the city of Detroit and Michigan’s Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer after he was ticketed. The lawsuit says the state was using its stay-at-home order to wrongfully target pro-life demonstrations.  

Following the court’s decision on Tuesday, the state government posted a clarification online stating that the governor’s executive order does not prohibit activities that are protected by the First Amendment.

— Bible reading 54 percent higher over Holy week this year: YouVersion

YouVersion reported this week that Bible reading on its app from Palm Sunday to Easter was 54 percent higher than it was for Holy Week of last year. YouVersion also reported that while last year's Holy Week had 10.8 million verse shares, this year the total increased by 30 percent to 14.1 million verse shares.

Earlier this month, multiple Bible publishers reported an increase in Bible sales compared to the same time last year. Tyndale House Publishers of Carol Stream, Illinois, reported that their Life Application Study Bible sales went up 44 percent and sales of the Immerse Bible went up 60 percent, compared to March of 2019.

— DOJ intervenes after Miss. tickets churchgoers $500 each 

The Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest Tuesday in support of Temple Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, whose members were ticketed $500 each for attending a drive-in parking lot church service.

Attorney General William Barr said the city "singled churches out as the only essential service that may not operate despite following all CDC and state recommendations regarding social distancing."

The DOJ condemned the city of Greenville for fining churchgoers who remained in their vehicles with their windows up while at the same time allowing residents to go to drive-in restaurants with their windows down.

The church’s pastor, Arthur Scott, filed a lawsuit against the city of Greenville last week for punishing churchgoers who attended his drive-in church service last Wednesday night where people sat in their cars with their windows up in the church’s parking lot and listened to the pastor's sermon broadcast on a low-power FM frequency radio.

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