Update: Del. Religious Freedom Court Test


The plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Delaware Governor John Carney are seeking to move the case along and want a ruling on whether the governor has power to restrict religious activities during a health crisis, as was claimed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to legal representatives, clarification is desired as cases start to increase and cities like Philadelphia take action to reimplement indoor mask requirements.

(filing and original story below)

(original story, Dec. 2021)

A lawsuit centered around religious freedom in Delaware has been filed against Governor John Carney in the Court of Chancery.

Two pastors in New Castle County claim the Delaware Constitution states that the government can never violate religious freedom for “any pretense whatsoever,” but Carney implemented what they call a pandemic lockdown of Delaware churches last year. At the same time, the plaintiffs say, 236 categories of secular businesses were allowed to remain open.

According to The Neuberger Law Firm, pastors of churches in Townsend and Wilmington in the lawsuit seek an injunction against a range of practices such as prohibition of services, preventing indoor preaching and singing, and preventing religious activities such as Baptism and Communion.

According to the law firm:

We charge in court today that Carney’s Emergency Orders throughout the first 14 weeks of the COVID lockdown in 2020 denied each of these pastors on 29 separate occasions their absolute religious freedoms and we ask the Courts to order Carney, and all future Delaware Governors, to keep their “hands off” the church in any future emergencies, regardless of any “pretense” they may offer. As the Wall Street Journal on November 13, 2020 said concerning Carney’s illegal orders, “a pandemic doesn’t override the Constitution.”

Rev. Alan Hines is the pastor of Townsend Free Will Baptist Church in Townsend, DE, with a congregation of over 400 souls, and Rev. David Landow is the pastor of Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, DE, with a congregation of over 150.