(PJ MEDIA) – The Department of Justice on Friday announced it had filed a statement of interest in the case filed by Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., against the District of Columbia and Mayor Muriel Bowser. The 853-member church has a strong religious conviction that it must meet weekly and in person, as a single body, for worship. As a result of Mayor Bowser's onerous COVID-19 orders (first capping worship services at 10 people and now 100), Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) has not been able to meet together in the District since March. As a temporary measure, they've been meeting in a field in Virginia.
The congregation had asked the mayor for permission to meet at the 45,000-plus-seat Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, which would give them ample room to social distance, but the city denied the application for a waiver, and also the church's appeals. (More background here.)
Finally, on Sept. 22, the church filed a lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order asking that they be allowed to hold outdoor worship services in the District of Columbia, citing the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. CHBC says the mayor has double standards—one for churches and another for large gatherings of protesters. The lawsuit pointed out that the mayor herself has attended some of these gatherings.
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