Maine Church Takes Governor’s Orders to Court of Appeals

Jun 30, 2020

BANGOR, ME – Liberty Counsel filed the opening brief to the First Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Calvary Chapel of Bangor’s appeal in the lawsuit against Governor Janet Mills’ unconstitutional orders against churches. Under the governor’s orders, no religious gatherings are permitted, including parking lot services. 

Under the orders, the church can hold meetings to feed, shelter, and provide social services to an unlimited number of people, but religious services are severely limited in the same building where non-religious services can be held. 

Gov. Mills said that churches will only be allowed to meet in small numbers when she is satisfied with the “metrics,” and when that happens, she will require churches to apply to reopen. Approved churches will then need to display a “badge” at the front door signifying they are approved to open. However, Gov. Mills has no process in place now to begin the approval process and no application for the churches. Even the notion that churches would have to apply to reopen and display a “badge” signifying approval is offensive to the First Amendment.

So-called “essential” commercial and non-religious entities that include liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, warehouse clubs, “big box” and “supercenter” stores that accommodate gatherings of people without threat of criminal sanctions are currently allowed. People may gather in these venues but not in churches. The governor’s orders also allow people to gather in secular or commercial parking lots, but not in church parking lots to listen to the pastor. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The First Amendment does not have a pandemic pause button, and Governor Janet Mills is not above the law. Houses of worship have special protections under the First Amendment and cannot be unequally treated or relegated to second class status. This is discriminating against churches and offensive to the First Amendment.” 

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