Kentucky church asks Louisville mayor to reverse ban on drive-in Easter service

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The mayor of Louisville, Ky., is not allowing churches to hold drive-in services on Easter Sunday, a strategy other congregations have used amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Fire Christian Church, represented by First Liberty Institute, sent a letter Thursday to Mayor Greg Fischer, who believes "more lives will be lost" if he doesn't stop the services, urging him to change his mind.

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The Louisville church has been holding drive-in services for weeks in line with CDC guidelines, but is now being told to stop just before Easter.

"The prohibition of drive-in church services goes beyond those guidelines ... and unlawfully targets houses of worship," Roger Byron, senior counsel at First Liberty, said. "Many churches across the nation are holding drive-in services to balance the spiritual and physical health of their communities."

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The mayor reportedly encouraged citizens to contact the city's 311 number about a house of worship that plans to hold a drive-in service during the restriction, which First Liberty argues is against both state and federal law.

On Fire Christian Church in Louisville is asking Mayor Greg Fischer to reverse his decision to ban drive-in church services. (Lousiville.gov/First Liberty)

On Fire Christian Church in Louisville is asking Mayor Greg Fischer to reverse his decision to ban drive-in church services. (Lousiville.gov/First Liberty)

Defending his decision, Fischer said during a video address: “It’s not really practical or safe to accommodate drive-up services taking place in our community. Think about this on Sunday morning: There would be hundreds of thousands of people driving around our community.”

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Gov. Andy Beshear said he supports leaders across the state banning churches from holding drive-in services, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

“This is not the time to put large numbers of people in the same space,” the mayor said. “That would just create a tinder box for the virus. It creates way too many opportunities for people to contract the disease.”

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Pastors in other states, including Victory Church in Tulsa, have held massive drive-in services with the approval of the mayor, chief of police, and Oklahoma governor.

The move is especially upsetting to residents because of the timing, and because local businesses and restaurants continue to operate drive-ins and drive-thrus.