GREENVILLE, Miss. — Churchgoers who attended a drive-in service at a church in Greenville, Mississippi, were fined $500 for reportedly violating a curfew order from the mayor.
During Thursday night service at King James Bible Baptist Church, while parishoners sat in their vehicles listening to Pastor Charles Hamilton, Greenville Police surrounded the church parking lot.
Jeremy Dys, with First Liberty Institute, is representing Pastor Hamilton and says police were violating the church’s constitutional right while enforcing a curfew order from Mayor Errick Simmons.
“They park in their parking spaces, they keep their windows up, the doors closed, they never get out of the cars like the CDC recommends they do,” Dys said. “There’s no exception to the United States Constitution for a pandemic. What Mayor Simmons has done is to apply an order without regard to equality and he’s singled out churches in particular.”
King James Bible Baptist isn’t the only Greenville church police visited.
“We have everybody stay in their cars, with their windows up and go to a certain radio station, a low frequency station,” said Lee Gordon with Temple Baptist Church.
Gordon says there were about thirty cars in the parking lot of Temple Baptist Church.
“The police started coming up and we said, ‘we think we’re within our rights.’ So they started issuing tickets, five hundred dollars tickets,” Gordon said. “I don’t know, it may have been twenty to thirty tickets. Everybody got one. It wasn’t per car. Me and my wife was in a car together and both of us got tickets.”
Gordon says the intimidation won’t stop the faithful from gathering safely.
“This is Easter Sunday, and we want to celebrate Easter Sunday the best way can,” Gordon said.