Christian activist group suing Del. Governor John Carney over face mask regulations
DELAWARE – A Christian activist group in Delaware is suing Governor John Carney. They say that Christians are being discriminated against when it comes to COVID-19 safety guidelines. “While the governor can speak to reporters without a mask, no pastor can speak to his congregation. This is blatantly illegal, and we will take him to court,” said attorney for The Committee to Save Christmas Thomas Neuberger.
Neuberger says that asking church leaders to wear face masks while preaching is against Delaware’s constitution. He says that Governor Carney doesn’t have a right to tell places of worship how to carry out their services. “The Delaware constitution forbids any governor from ever interfering in religious worship,” said Neuberger.
Under Delaware’s guidelines for places of worship – church leaders and singers who are not not able to maintain six feet from others must wear a face mask while performing or preaching. If they can’t do so, they’re instructed to face away from the congregation. “Now all pastors must try to preach through a face mask while politicians don’t have to do so. You can’t effectively preach wearing a face mask,” said Neuberger.
Pastor Bruce Rogers leads Long Neck United Methodist Church. He isn’t part of the Committee to Save Christmas – but he says he agrees with them. “The restrictions that the governor seeks to impose on churches, on religious institutions, on people of faith shows either a lack of caring or a lack of understanding,” said Pastor Rogers.
Pastor Rogers tells 47ABC that he doesn’t feel he should have to wear a mask while preaching. He says that masks – plus the idea of having to face away from his congregation – lessens the impact of worship services. “It’s not only the spoken word, it’s facial expressions. You get to see the emphasis that’s added with the facial expressions. With some folks, it’s distorted when you wear a mask,” said Pastor Rogers.
Neuberger says that he’s optimistic about the outcome of this lawsuit. He says he’s seen judges in other states strike down similar COVID-19 guidelines. “With the emergency over – everybody tried to help in the beginning. But now it’s six months later and the emergency is over. The courts are stepping in,” said Neuberger.
Neuberger says that the next steps in this lawsuit will come next week. He says that on September 15th they filed a brief against Governor Carney’s motion to dismiss. He adds that on September 22nd they’ll be filing more papers. Neuberger did not say what they were planning to file.
47ABC did reach out to Governor Carney’s office for comment on the lawsuit. His office says they can’t comment on pending litigation.