Photo Credits: pxfuel
One of the consequences of the stay-at-home orders for churches during this pandemic is closing the church doors and switching to online services instead. That can be frustrating and lead to lost revenue, but those measures can help society to survive by minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock implemented a stay-at-home order on March 25th, 2020 that closed non-essential businesses and attempted to halt the congregation of groups of people, including at restaurants.
Colorado resident Michael Lawrence filed a lawsuit against Governor Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and the state and city’s Departments of Public Health and Environment because they restricted his ability to exercise his constitutional rights and impaired his property rights.
As the lawsuit says, the orders that restricted gatherings of more than ten people at the time caused the plaintiff’s parish to cease conducting weekly Mass, cease offering the Eucharist and cease hearing confessions. The defendant’s conduct has impaired the plaintiff’s ability to freely exercise his religious faith, in violation of the First Amendment.
Lawrence was working in a restaurant as a cook and now the restaurant is closed. He is seeking for the reasonable value of the wages he has lost through ‘the defendants’ exercise of eminent domain and the restriction on the commercial uses of that property.’ The plaintiff has both a car and a license, and because of the pandemic, he can't drive anywhere, so logically he seeks reimbursement for car maintenance costs.
“There's no alternative where no one dies,” Lawrence told Colorado Politics. “More people will die from economy-based suicides than from the flu, according to the research I cited. I have proposed an injunction that will result in far less death.” In the lawsuit, Lawrence mentioned obesity, smoking and the seasonal flu as resulting in far higher deaths than COVID-19. He said that the increase of less than 1% in Colorado’s death rate is not an eventuation that justifies the destruction of the Constitution and the thriving Colorado economy.
Fred Yarger, Colorado’s solicitor general under Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, said: "I’m not surprised by this lawsuit, and we might see more of them as the crisis continues. I don’t expect courts to second-guess these kinds of public health orders unless there is a compelling reason to do so in an individual case."