Kentucky’s largest city cannot halt a local church’s drive-in service planned for Easter, a federal judge on Saturday ruled.
The ruling came as Republicans blasted Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s statewide plan to order people into quarantine if they attend mass gatherings, including religious ones.
On Fire Christian Church had sued Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and the city after Fischer announced drive-in style religious gatherings were not allowed on Easter.
U.S. District Judge Justin Walker sided with the church, saying that the city is prohibited from “enforcing; attempting to enforce; threatening to enforce; or otherwise requiring compliance with any prohibition on drive-in church services at On Fire.”
“On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter,” Walker wrote in his sternly worded 20-page opinion. “That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion.”
Walker added that “The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”
Fischer had argued that drive-in church services weren’t “practical or safe” for the community. However, Walker noted that drive-thru restaurants and liquor stores were still allowed to operate.
“Thank God for a judge who understands the First Amendment prevents the government from prohibiting the free government exercise of religion,” tweeted Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul.