Maine Church Continues Defending Right to Worship

Mar 25, 2021

BANGOR, ME – Liberty Counsel filed the reply brief to the U.S. District Court of Maine regarding a renewed preliminary injunction on behalf of Calvary Chapel of Bangor asking the court to strike down Governor Janet Mills’ unconstitutional restriction imposed against churches and places of worship.
Maine has the most severe restrictions in the nation on places of worship with its 50-person numerical cap notwithstanding the size of the facility.
Gov. Mills initially banned all worship, and then she amended her orders to no more than 10 people, and then no more than 50 people. After Liberty Counsel filed a new action at the Supreme Court, Gov. Mills issued another order that appears to directly target Calvary Chapel. The new order limits churches to five people per 1,000 sq. feet, or 50 people, whichever is greater. Gov. Mills knew Calvary Chapel’s sanctuary is 10,000 sq. feet, so this most recent order continues the 50-person cap on the church.

The church also has the Calvary Residential Discipleship (CRD) program, a biblical-based ministry that helps men and women who are seeking a way of escape from drugs, alcohol, and other life-controlling issues. The year-long residential program operates two homes, one with 24 women and one with 24 men, for a total of 48 full-time residents on the church property. CRD is a Christ-centered alternative to secular programs within the drug and alcohol community and includes a work program, daily Bible studies, devotional readings, and prayer. Regular attendance at church services is paramount to this program. Therefore, there will always be a minimum of 48 students at worship services on any given Sunday and Wednesday. When combined with Pastor Graves, the staff of seven or eight, and the other pastors, the governor’s orders preclude Calvary Chapel’s CRD residents from worshipping in the church. They can meet for substance abuse counseling that does not involve Bible studies and worship, but as soon as they worship, the assembly is illegal. 

Moreover, the 50-person limit also prevents any other church members who are not in the CRD program from attending worship. Yet, worshipping with those not in the residential program is essential for the CRD program. It is not an option for Calvary Chapel to preclude its members and congregants from attending religious worship services as that is the reason this church exists. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Calvary Chapel of Bangor and all houses of worship are not only essential to the community but have special protections under the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled against these worship bans, but Governor Janet Mills has continued to discriminate against churches and places of worship. The governor’s unconstitutional actions must end.” 

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