The District of Columbia agreed to pay $220,000 to Capitol Hill Baptist Church after it sued the city over coronavirus mandates that restricted in-person worship.
The settlement signed Thursday was reached after the church filed a federal lawsuit in September 2020 in an attempt to hold outdoor services while wearing masks and being socially distant, noted First Liberty Institute which represented the church.
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On Oct. 9, 2020, a federal court in the nation’s capital ruled in favor of the church and granted a preliminary injunction – allowing members of its congregation to meet outside.
Though Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser lifted the majority of COVID-related restrictions in May, the suit persisted and alleged the city violated the First Amendment.
“All Capitol Hill Baptist Church ever asked is for equal treatment under the law so they could meet together safely as a church,” Hiram Sasser, Executive General Counsel for First Liberty Institute said in a statement. “The church is relieved and grateful that this ordeal is behind them.”
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First Liberty Institute explained the Capitol Hill Baptist Church believes in-person gatherings are fundamental in practicing its doctrine.
Despite tight restrictions placed on organized events, churches, and workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic Bowser allowed large-scale Black Lives Matter protests to continue throughout the summer and into the fall.
“Government officials need to know that illegal restrictions on First Amendment rights are intolerable and costly,” Sasser said.
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The city agreed in the settlement not to enforce any “current or future” restrictions on the church that has served as a Capitol Hill staple since 1878.
Fox News could not immediately reach the mayor’s office for comment, though the city’s suit was just one of a series of complaints lodged during the pandemic that shut down organized religion nationwide.