The mayor of a small Mississippi city, facing a second lawsuit after punishing "drive-in" church services, has reportedly backed down.
First Liberty Institute announced this week it became the second law firm to sue on behalf of a second church in Greenville, where police officers shut down "drive-in" services after Mayor Errick Simmons ordered churches closed during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Late Wednesday, in a statement, First Liberty thanked Mayor Simmons for "clarifying" that drive-in church services are allowed.
The law firm represented Pastor Charles Hamilton and his congregation at King James Bible Church.
OneNewsNow reported previously that members of the second church, Temple Baptist, were ticketed $500 by police while sitting in their automobiles listening to the pastor preach via the radio.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Temple Baptist in a separate federal lawsuit against the mayor. The status of that lawsuit is unknown.
At King James church, Pastor Hamilton video-recorded his confrontation with police officers and stated that eight officers were present to demand he shut down the service before it began.
Jeremy Dys, an attorney at First Liberty, says the order by Mayor Simmons singled out churches and therefore law enforcement officers targeted churches, too. Dys made his comments before the mayor backtracked.
“The Constitution did not give the mayor a doctor's note to do as he wishes,” Dys told OneNewsNow. “Government officials cannot send in the police just because a car is parked on a church parking lot instead of a liquor store."
Mayor Simmons defended his April 7 executive order to the media, including The New York Times, which reported on the controversy after the U.S. Dept. of Justice came to the defense of the two churches.
The police department dropped the tickets written at Temple Baptist, the Times reported days ago.