Serving Franklin County, WA

Limits on church services lifted

Federal court rules limits on religious services are unconstitutional

OLYMPIA – Just in time for Christmas and following a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision, Gov. Jay Inslee has rescinded his unconstitutional order limiting attendance at religious services and banning singing during services.

In Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley v. Sisolak, the federal court ruled Dec. 15 that limiting the capacity of a religious service violated the First Amendment, the right to freedom of religion.

Prior to that decision, Gov. Inslee had attempted to limit church services to 25% of indoor capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer. He also banned singing and required church to control access to restrooms.

Because of the decision, the cap has been removed as the appellate court, interpreting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, to represent a “seismic shift in free exercise law.”

But while Inslee is withdrawing his unconstitutional order, he is still urging churches to voluntarily limit capacity to 200 people.

The governor also slightly adjusted his ban on singing during religious services, noting masked soloists can sing at all services and masked congregations can sing during outdoor services.

The control of access to restrooms has also been lifted.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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