‘If a Washington citizen can visit a marijuana shop … in a responsible and socially-distanced manner, how are they not allowed to practice faith-based activities…?’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Republican gubernatorial candidate Joshua Freed filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Washington Gov. Jay Inslee after Inslee banned religious gatherings of any size.
Under Inslee’s shelter-in-place orders, Freed has been deprived of his constitutional rights, such as the right to worship and freely exercise his religion, the complaint states. The restraining order would restore this freedom and allow Freed to hold one-on-one prayer meetings that still adhere to health officials’ social-distancing guidelines.
“They will take place outdoors, with social distancing at all times followed, hygiene precautions taken, and the visitor bringing his or her own seat and removing it upon leaving,” the request explains.
“Further, the proposed meetings will be under an hour in duration,” it said, adding that congregants will voluntarily use personal protective equipment such as face masks. “Each person will wear PPE.”
These kinds of meetings are currently subject to criminal penalties, thanks to Inslee’s executive order.
The only activities considered “essential” by Inslee are grocery shopping, seeking medical services, caring for a family member, engaging in outdoor exercise, and/or working for an essential business.
These strict limitations prevent citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights, Freed alleged.
“If a Washington citizen can visit a marijuana shop or grocery store to buy goods in a responsible and socially-distanced manner, how are they not allowed to practice faith-based activities and have spiritual fellowship using the same precautions?” Freed said in a statement.
A restraining order is necessary because Freed “would suffer irreparable injury by his constitutional rights being deprived,” his request states.
Furthermore, Freed’s one-on-one Bible studies do not “cause harm to anyone,” especially since they “would comport with the CDC guidelines on such gatherings,” the request explains.
Freed has also filed a lawsuit against Inslee, asking the courts to overturn Inslee’s executive order and accusing Inslee of overstepping his bounds, according to the Seattle Times.