In the wake of a major legal victory on the West Coast involving churches, a church on the other side of the country is seeking emergency relief from the U.S. Supreme Court.
"We have filed with the U.S. Supreme Court for an injunction pending appeal regarding the restrictions in Maine on behalf of Calvary Chapel of Bangor," says Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
"Maine now has the dubious distinction for having the most severe restrictions on churches and places of worship in the entire nation," the attorney continues, "so this is one of these other dominoes that we are seeking to knock down permanently so that we never go down this road again."
Last week, Liberty Counsel won a huge victory in California with a court-ordered settlement that now gives a statewide permanent injunction against California, freeing up all churches and places of worship and requiring California to pay $1.35 million in attorneys fees and costs.
"This also will be a domino effect for all the other churches that are in court right now in California – so, they're all going to get relief," Staver shares. "California is going to have to pay for all those of those particular violations, and now we're working on other areas around the country in our pending litigation."
According to Liberty Counsel, Maine Governor Janet Mills clearly has discriminated by allowing churches to hold secular gatherings (e.g., to feed, to shelter, to counsel), but initially banning and now limiting the size of religious gatherings to no more than 50 people – regardless the size of the building. The Democratic governor, notes the legal group, has allowed many commercial and nonreligious gatherings without restrictions or threat of criminal sanctions.
Calvary Chapel of Bangor filed its lawsuit against the state one year ago when Mills' orders permitted no religious gatherings – including parking lot services – and violations carried criminal penalties of up to six months in jail and a 1,000 fine.