Attendees at Maryville Baptist Service Face No Charges

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Maryville Baptist Church in Bullitt County on Easter Sunday made national headlines when it hosted an in-person church service against Governor Andy Beshear’s executive order. Kentucky State Police (KSP) were told to enforce the governor’s executive order, preventing mass gatherings, by taking license plate numbers and putting notices on vehicles.

The notice stated that the local health department would contact the vehicle’s owner with quarantine documents requiring anyone in the occupant’s vehicle and anyone in the household to self-quarantine for 14 days. It also stated that failure to sign or comply with the agreement may result in further enforcement measures.

Beshear addressed what measures would be during his Easter Sunday update.

“They are not being charged with anything at this time. We just have to have an address if we are going to send a letter,” Beshear said.

When Beshear was asked if he supports ankle monitors to enforce quarantine, like has happened in Louisville, Beshear said it’s not going to come to that.

“I believe that the community which is what is truly at stake, the community in Bullitt County is going to respond in a positive way that suggests that all of these folks need to just stay home for 14 days so the rest of this county and other counties don’t become the type of hotspot.”

“In an effort to protect the lives of Kentuckians, yesterday, April 12, the Kentucky State Police responded to several complaints regarding mass gatherings across the commonwealth,” Sergeant Josh Lawson with KSP said in a statement via email late Monday afternoon.

“The response from KSP was to ensure that those participating in these gatherings were following proper CDC guidelines in order to help stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19). Forty-two complaints were made, but KSP found only one mass gathering that was not being held in accordance with CDC guidelines and state orders,” Sgt. Lawson said.

KSP distributed notices on 33 vehicles and no enforcement action was taken, the statement said. “Vehicle information on which these fliers were placed was recorded,” emailed Sgt. Lawson.

Spectrum News 1 reached out to Bullitt County’s Health Department regarding the next steps and if quarantine orders have been sent out.  

“At this time, we are still gathering information in regards to the participants who attended Maryville Baptist Church, and their license plates being recorded. More information to follow,” the department responded in an email.

Liberty Counsel (LC), is legally representing the church. The organization has offices in Central Florida, Virginia, and Washington D.C., and represents religious liberty, pro-life and pro-family organizations. 

Founder and Chairman, Mat Staver, said LC is preparing a federal lawsuit based on the first amendment. 

“It’s the same basis that the federal judge ruled on Saturday regarding the parking lot churches where the mayor in Louisville and the governor, they were all doing the same kind of thing wanting to band even parking lot services and the federal court on Saturday said no you can’t go that far,” Staver said. 

Staver referred to the U.S. District Court Judge Justin Walker granting a temporary restraining order against Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer (D), from blocking On Fire Christian Church’s Easter Sunday drive-in service. On Fire Christian had a drive-in service on Easter Sunday. Beshear, however, has allowed drive-in services, including on Easter Sunday.

Staver said if the government issues notice to churchgoers to quarantine for 14-days then they should also do that for commercial establishments like hardware stores and grocery stores.

“When you go to a grocery store no one practices social distancing when they pick through fruits and vegetables. Everybody’s got their hands on them, and that can be a major source of transmission of disease or when they go to the counter to order something. It’s the same situation. So we really need to be fair across-the-board rather than targeting a particular group as the governor and mayor are doing in Kentucky and Louisville, in particular,” Staver told Spectrum News 1.

Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron expressed a similar sentiment to Staver’s on Twitter Saturday encouraging social distancing but expressing concern about the use of law enforcement. 

In Sunday’s update, Beshear said places like grocery stores are necessary to be healthy at home. He also said in Sunday’s and Monday’s update that Kentucky’s Labor Cabinet and local health departments are actively monitoring open essential businesses.

“It’s any mass gathering or any group not doing their best to follow the CDC guidelines,” Beshear said on Sunday. 

On Monday, Beshear said KSP and others, have been sent to other types of mass gatherings where people are congregating or not congregating.

“We have cited 18 business at least through the Labor Cabinet. Nothing we’ve done has singled out churches whatsoever,” Beshear said during his Monday update.

In Sunday’s update, Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack pointed out a mid-March church revival that happened in Hopkins County as evidence for what may happen at mass gatherings.

“We believe from an epidemiological, scientific standpoint over 50 people were sick, and there are six people dead. So I guess breaking it down just as bluntly as I can, does our right to get together entitle us to have other people die as a result. I mean that’s essentially what’s happened. Now, this is not just about church. This is about any gathering.”