Under agreement, church considered ‘essential’ in Delaware
DELAWARE – The Committee to Save Christmas is celebrating on Wednesday, after an agreement with Governor John Carney made major changes to how churches are treated during the pandemic.
The Neuberger Firm, a Wilmington based law office, represented Rev. Dr. Christopher Bullock, a New Castle County pastor, who sued Governor Carney over his restrictions imposed on religious groups in Delaware in response to the pandemic.
“We felt that the restrictions were an overreach on houses of worship,” Bullock said.
On Wednesday, the law office said the two parties came to an agreement, and Bullock dropped his federal lawsuit. Under the agreement, the law office said, “The governor in any future emergency now will be bound by the law found in the First Amendment and he always must treat churches and religious worship in a neutral manner.”
According to The Neuberger Firm, the terms of the entire settlement include getting rid of the 10 person attendance limit, requiring churches to be considered ‘essential business,’ forbidding restrictions that solely apply to religious rituals, no age based attendance restrictions, and the requirement that social distancing and mask wearing requirements cannot solely apply to churches.
In a statement, Governor Carney’s office said in part, “All of Governor Carney’s actions during this covid-19 crisis have been focused on protecting lives. Covid doesn’t distinguish between a church, a restaurant, or your living room.”
Pastor Bullock, though, says he’s just happy to move on.
“It will be a pathway to the new normal, without the strain and struggle of these restrictions,”Bullock said.