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Religious gatherings ban appears unenforceable, lawsuit claims victory

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GOP gubernatorial candidate Joshua Freed is suing Jay Inslee over his ban on religious gatherings. Recently, he had his first hearing in front of a Seattle judge. How did it go? Freed joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss what progress has been made.

“The basis of the lawsuit is that our constitutional rights, when it comes to religious liberties, have been violated under Jay Inslee’s arbitrary directives. And so we brought our suit two weeks ago to federal court asking for the court to jump in and speak on our behalf, weigh in that we do have the right to participate in Bible studies or praying together,” Freed said.

He noted that it was odd that Inslee had been arguing that we can’t have prayer or Bible study, but spiritual counselling was allowed, which he said was about depression or anxiety, while Bible study is about learning more about God and worship.

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“On the call today, the judge pressed the attorney general and said, … ‘As the leading law enforcement of the land, do you have the ability to enforce this?’ And they said we cannot and we will not enforce the ability of somebody to have Bible study and prayer under the definition of spiritual counseling.”

So what was Freed’s takeaway?

“It was a major victory,” he said. “After two weeks of the Attorney General and the governor arguing that we didn’t have the right to those religious liberties, they backed off on saying that we cannot have these gatherings of any number.”

“And so right now we can gather as individuals in our front yards, and we can gather with small gatherings, and he did not put a limit on that. He said that we are able to meet and they will not enforce it.”

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As attorney Mark Lamb noted, the governor had refused to concede that his ban on all religious gatherings, regardless of size, regardless of whether people practice social distancing, is unenforceable.

“And [Friday] in court, he was asked that specific question by a federal judge, and they were unable to dodge it, they were unable to get out of it. And they had to concede that it is unenforceable. That the governor is not going to enforce his own order against people who are gathering to meet in a one on one basis to pray or to read Scripture,” Lamb said.

“Prior to today, it’s very important that people understand that there was a blanket ban on all spiritual gatherings. … Today, they had to acknowledge — because we forced them to — in federal court that they can’t enforce a ban on two people praying, and this ridiculous kind of governing by fiat where people can make these absolute statements that are absurd and run counter to what everybody knows is common sense.”

Does this nullify the religious part of the stay-at-home order?

As Jason wondered, the judge didn’t disqualify the order, but the state conceded that they’re not going to enforce it. Is the takeaway that they’re not going to enforce, but keep the stay-at-home order in place? Or are they going to remove that portion of the stay-at home-order?

“I think what it means is that that portion of the stay-at-home order is meaningless … this part of the Draconian order that said that two people couldn’t even pray together — when push came to shove in federal court, the governor backed down and blinked as he had to.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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