Drive-in Easter service at Louisville church given green light by federal judge

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Leaders of a Louisville church got the green light from a federal judge on Saturday to hold their drive-in Easter service. 

Saturday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against any stoppage of the service. This now allows On Fire Christian Church to have its Easter Sunday drive-in service, the group First Liberty Institute confirms. 

The law firm posted this about the case on its website

“This afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Justin Walker granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer from blocking On Fire Church from holding drive-in services on Easter. The TRO was filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by First Liberty Institute, WilmerHale, and Swansburg & Smith, PLLC, on behalf of On Fire Christian Church.  

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer provided this statement to WHAS11 News about the ruling:

“There was never a Louisville Metro Government ban on drive-in church services, as we would have explained in court if we had been allowed. I urged, and will continue to urge, against these kind of services, because I want to protect my city and its residents from spread of the COVID-19 virus. Let’s don’t play politics with this. The science is clear – the virus wants to spread to as many people as possible, and it kills. The more disciplined we are now about not gathering in large groups, the more lives we save, and the sooner we can come out of our houses and safely gather to worship together again.” – Mayor Greg Fischer

Judge Walker wrote this as part of his opinion memo attached to the TRO:

“On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter. That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion. But two days ago, citing the need for social distancing during the current pandemic, Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer ordered Christians not to attend Sunday services, even if they remained in their cars to worship – and even though it’s Easter. The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, “beyond all reason,” unconstitutional.”

Read full text of the temporary restraining order here.

Mayor Greg Fischer released an updated statement:

Folks, let’s get the facts straight: There was never a Louisville Metro Government ban on drive-in church services, as we would have explained in court if we had been allowed. I urged, and will continue to urge, against these kind of services, because I want to protect my city and its residents from spread of the COVID-19 virus. Let’s don’t play politics with this. The science is clear – the virus wants to spread to as many people as possible, and it kills. The more disciplined we are now about not gathering in large groups, the more lives we save, and the sooner we can come out of our houses and safely gather to worship together again.

-Mayor Greg Fischer

RELATED: LIST | How to watch local Easter services at home

Other stories on WHAS11 News

RELATED: Kentucky governor: Anyone at mass gatherings this weekend must quarantine

Download the WHAS11 News app now for the latest information and updates. 

Apple iPhone users click here

Android Phone users click here