This Is a Matter of Life and Death

Feb 22, 2021

As of today, Maine has banned and restricted churches for 343 days. We filed at the U.S. Supreme Court and also filed a new injunction at the lower District Court. I want to share more about the incredible church we are defending and its many life-saving ministries. -Mat


Less than a week after our California win at the Supreme Court, Liberty Counsel filed another petition at the High Court against Maine Gov. Janet Mills. This is now the fifth church case we have filed with the U.S. Supreme Court since May 2020. And we also filed a new injunction at the appropriate District Court.

In Maine, churches may offer food, shelter and secular counseling to any number of people without limit. But if the group worships or studies the Bible, there can be no more than 50 people. When we originally filed, the limit was zero, then 10 and now only 50.

This is a serious problem for Calvary Chapel of Bangor, which has a ministry called Calvary Residential Discipleship (CRD). This ministry houses 48 men and women whose lives have been wrecked by addiction. When the pastoral and counseling team gather with the residents, the number exceeds 50, which is no problem with the state if they do not worship.

The substance abuse program was deemed essential, but the experience that saves addicts' souls — participating in the life of a vibrant, Bible teaching, worshipping church — was not!

The moment this group worships, the assembly becomes illegal, and everyone – the residents and pastors alike - face fines and jail. And Pastor Ken, having years of experience in helping people overcome addictions, will never secularize the program and stop the Bible study and worship.

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In March 2020, Pastor Ken told the rest of the congregation to watch online while the residents gathered for in-person worship. Members began calling Ken and asking questions like, “If I come to worship with my family, will the doors of the church be locked?”

Such questions broke Ken’s heart. He said, “Of course not. Come and worship with us!”  And they did. By making that possible, Ken risked being arrested under the governor’s no-worship order.

At first, when Pastor Ken faced a total ban on in-person worship, he defied the orders and risked arrest and fines to worship with the residents.

Even now, with just the 48 residents and the pastoral and counseling staff, the group exceeds the 50-person limit. Yet, in-person worship is essential.

+  +  People are dying . . .

According to the CDC, the U.S. recorded the highest number of overdose deaths in 2020. More than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred during the pandemic shutdowns, the most ever recorded during a 12-month period... and emergency room doctors say that number is growing daily.

The COVID shutdowns have bankrupted family businesses, increased poverty, destroyed jobs and livelihoods while isolating people from their strongest support systems. This creates a perfect storm of stress pushing people back into addiction, depression and even suicide.

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The Brunswick, ME, Public School Superintendent, Phillip Potenziano, released a statement following the suicide of 16-year-old Spencer Smith: “As superintendent, I know that the pandemic has been a stressor for everyone, students, staff, and parents. Students' academic life and new family life patterns, work-life, and social life have been completely disrupted. Our entire state and nation are reeling from feelings of isolation.”

Studies show that regular churchgoers are the only group whose mental health did not decline in 2020 compared to 2019. In fact, their mental health improved.

That is one reason our fight to end illegal church restrictions is so important. Outside of churchgoers, there has been a dramatic increase in drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety and suicide.

Yet, despite the data, rogue governors like Mills continue to restrict the one place where help is proven to be found – the church.

So, we drug Gov. Mills to the Supreme Court AND also filed a new injunction at the District Court, where we are requesting relief from these illegal restrictions. The fact is, our fight for religious freedom means everything to lost and hurting people like those served by Calvary Chapel’s ministry.

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Pastor Graves has been there at the birth of a child, performed that person’s wedding, and has been there at the birth of the next generation. He cares far more for his flock than any politician.

In Maine, you can offer substance abuse counseling in the church building, but worship is restricted. You can feed the stomach but not the soul. You can offer shelter for the body, but not shelter under the wings of God. A church can have nonreligious services with an unlimited number of people. But once you worship God, you feel the heavy hand of the governor.

+  +  +  A pattern of abuse . . .

I pray frequently for the pastors we represent. Many do not know if today they will be criminally charged and face crippling fines. I never thought we would see this in America. It happened so quickly.


Liberty Counsel is at the EPICENTER of the battle against these tyrants who abuse their offices and want to secularize the church and criminalize Christianity.

Never have churches come under such hostile and targeted attacks. Secular activities are fine - it is Christianity and worship that is under attack.

Help us fight by partnering with Liberty Counsel. Every dollar you donate will be effectively DOUBLED. Your gift of $50 will become $100; $250 will be doubled to $500; $1,000 expands to $2,000, and so on.

Even if you’ve given before – even several times before – we need your further help to continue this arduous battle. Please PRAY for the churches, the pastors and Liberty Counsel’s entire team. The church is, and has always been, essential!

Mat Staver
Founder & Chairman
Liberty Counsel

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