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Police record KY churchgoers’ license plates on Easter and here’s what else

Pastor Chuck Salvo delivers his sermon to the congregation during the drive-in service at On Fire Christian Church in Louisville on April 5. (Louisville Courier Journal/TNS)
April 13, 2020

Police in Kentucky enforced the governor’s orders barring in-person church service on Sunday by posting notices on attendees’ vehicles warning them to self-quarantine for 14 days or face penalties.

To enforce Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s stay-at-home orders, state police officers placed notices on vehicles at the Maryville Baptist Church outside Louisville and wrote down their license plates, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Notices placed on vehicles reportedly warned of “further enforcement measures” if owners did not take up self-quarantine.

Several of the attendees who received the quarantine notices reportedly said they do not plan to comply with the 14-day self-quarantine imposed on them. It was not immediately clear what officers would do with the license information they collected according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Beshear released a statement calling for the quarantine of church attendees across the state on Friday with the warning, “This is the only way we can ensure that your decision doesn’t kill someone else.”

The statement noted “Kentucky State Police will be recording the license plate numbers of any vehicle seen at the gatherings. Local health officials then will contact the people associated with those vehicles and require them to self-quarantine for 14 days.”

Sgt. Josh Lawson of the Kentucky State Police said the department’s 16 posts responded to between two and five complaints about church services but found that only the Maryville Baptist Church was in violation of specific rules constraining church services. Lawson said other complaints came in against drive-in church services, but those services where attendees remained in their vehicles were permitted, per the governor’s directions.

People who went to the Maryville service, but listened to the service broadcast while remaining in their vehicles also avoided the ticketing and self-quarantine orders.

Rev. Jack Roberts said he planned to continue with the in-person services in spite of Beshear’s orders. Roberts said he would not tell his parishioners whether to comply with the orders or not.

“Everybody has to do what they feel comfortable with,” Roberts said. Roberts was reportedly among several attendees who attempted to cover their license plates. Police instead collected their vehicle identification numbers.

Authorities in Greenville, Miss. similarly dispersed church services with the threat of $500 fines. The city of Greenville extended its order banning in-person church services to also limit drive-in services.

Fox News reported Sunday the U.S. Department of Justice has signaled it is reviewing actions taken by states and local governments whose responses to the coronavirus pandemic limit religious freedoms and that those local governments could expect action from the Department of Justice within the week.