DENVER (CBS4)- The State of Colorado is appealing a federal judge's decision to allow two Denver metro area churches to go without face masks or attendance limits for indoor services. For Pastor Bob Enyart, preaching to an empty church was not what he wanted when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
At the Denver Bible Church and elsewhere, COVID-19 safety restrictions were later eased somewhat, but that didn't satisfy him. He went to court suing the federal government and state, asking to remove attendance limits and mask requirements during indoor services.
"Including congregational singing and that our families could come together without some arbitrary limit, and we are thankful to God and to the federal court," the pastor told CBS4's Rick Sallinger.
Colorado has a face mask order that has been extended by Gov. Jared Polis since he first signed the executive order in July. There are also social distancing and group limit restrictions in the state in addition to counties and municipalities enforcing their own guidelines.
Throughout the country, churches have been protesting what they consider infringement on their freedom of religion. Many have gotten creating, some hosting virtual or drive-in services.
Attorney Brad Bergford is representing Denver Bible and Community Baptist Church, the plaintiffs in the case.
"Churches are unique in that they are protected by the First Amendment and we have to recognize that we see how churches can be treated by the government," Bergford said.
Court cases on the issue have gone different ways, but in Denver, Federal Judge Daniel Domenico wrote, "If the public interest is served by allowing diners to unmask while eating in a restaurant, it is similarly served by allowing Plaintiffs to do the same in church."
The federal defendants were dropped from the case by the judge. The state is appealing the mask and crowd size decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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