Wilmington, NC Police Said Drive-In Church Services Not Allowed Under Gov's Orders, Then Lawyers Got Involved

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File

FILE – In this March 28, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles police officers patrol a sparsely populated Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

As I wrote earlier, there are a number of disturbing things happening in my state where local law enforcement officials are citing Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) March 30th executive “stay at home” order in order to shut down protests and make arrests for groups of people in excess of 10 and/or who are allegedly not practicing social distancing.

Questions have also risen when it comes to the allowance of drive-in church services in North Carolina.

In Wilmington, NC late last week and prior to Easter Sunday, the police department issued press release stating that drive-in church services were not allowed under Cooper’s executive order:

“With Easter Sunday just three days away, some area Pastors are asking whether or not ‘drive-in’ services are allowed under current Governor’s Executive Orders and local Declarations. These Orders and Declarations prohibit any event or convening that brings together more than ten individuals in one place (indoor or outdoor) at one time. This prohibition includes ‘drive-in’ services,” according to a police department press release.

[…]

“Health Department officials believe that the spread of the virus is at a critical stage. In an effort to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus to a manageable level, bringing large groups together, even if people remain in their vehicles, is unnecessarily risky at this time,” the press release concludes.

This declaration did not sit well with the lawyers at Coastal Legal Counsel, who questioned the constitutionality of the claim. In fact, the attorneys were able to produce a letter sent to the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association at the end of March in which Cooper stated drive-in worship services would be allowed as long as people remained in their vehicles. Here is, in part, what that letter states:

As a result of this information, the Wilmington PD backed off, but still made recommendations to residents and advised against such services:

As a result, such services will not be considered a violation. Health department officials have established the following recommendations: all vehicles maintain a distance of at least six (6) feet from any other vehicle on all sides, all persons stay in their vehicles, and only immediate family or members of the same household occupy the same vehicle. It is further advised that services last no more than one hour in order to prevent people from needing to leave their vehicles for any reason, including going to the restroom. Again, holding such services is against the advice of local health professionals. Please keep in mind that vehicles may not obstruct any street or sidewalk.

Well at least that’s one thing settled in this state.

For now, anyway.

As RedState managing editor Streiff wrote earlier this month, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer found himself in hot water with a federal judge after forbidding drive-thru and drive-in church services. “The Mayor’s decision is stunning,” Judge Justin Walker stated “And it is,’beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”