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Churches in Josephine and Douglas counties sue Gov. Brown in federal court

A Christian advocacy group is representing two southern Oregon churches in a new lawsuit taking aim at Governor Brown's coronavirus restrictions.

Posted: May 26, 2020 5:15 PM
Updated: May 26, 2020 5:40 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Two southern Oregon churches have filed a new lawsuit, this time in federal court, against Governor Kate Brown — alleging that her coronavirus restrictions unfairly target faith-based organizations.

A previous lawsuit from a coalition of Oregon churches and individuals recently resulted in a County judge rendering Brown's orders "null and void" before a stay from the Oregon Supreme Court temporarily kept them in place. That case remains pending at the state Supreme Court.

In this new case, two churches in Josephine and Douglas counties are represented by attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian nonprofit advocacy group based in Arizona.

A statement from ADF took aim at Brown's ban on gatherings of 25 or more people, claiming that the order "allows pastors to be jailed up to 30 days and fined $1,250 for going to church with 25 other people on a Sunday morning, when they can join those same people and more at a dine-in restaurant for Sunday lunch with no penalty."


RELATED: Roseburg restaurant fined nearly $14K for opening against order


Governor Brown's executive orders do allow for dine-in service at restaurants for counties with Phase I approval, however restaurants and retail establishments still face considerable restrictions and sanitation requirements. Restaurants, for example, must keep tables spaced six feet apart, limit parties to 10 people or fewer, and limit customer capacity to ensure strict physical distancing.

“While responding to crises can be difficult, this case is not,” said ADF attorney Caleb Dalton. “There is no legitimate justification for banning church services of 26 or more — with responsible social distancing and health and safety protocols — while allowing malls, gyms, restaurants, and retail establishments to fill to social-distancing capacity.”

ADF said that its attorneys have filed the suit at the U.S. District Court in Eugene. The listed plaintiff is Edgewater Christian Fellowship, a Grants Pass church.

Both Edgewater and its Douglas County counterpart plan are planning to resume in-person services on May 31, ADF said — with "strict social distancing and health and safety protocols" in place — despite the potential for criminal or civil penalties.

ADF said that a motion for an immediate temporary retraining order to halt Governor Brown's restrictions would be forthcoming.

This is a developing story and NewsWatch 12 will update the article with more details as they emerge.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 12170

Reported Deaths: 234
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah288872
Marion185953
Washington184721
Umatilla10137
Clackamas98727
Malheur3732
Union3692
Lincoln3615
Lane3053
Deschutes2680
Yamhill1989
Linn18110
Jackson1790
Polk17712
Jefferson1680
Morrow1451
Klamath1371
Wasco1171
Benton1146
Hood River1050
Douglas640
Josephine571
Clatsop550
Coos530
Columbia480
Lake240
Crook181
Tillamook160
Wallowa140
Baker120
Curry90
Sherman50
Harney20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 324543

Reported Deaths: 7051
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1335493809
Riverside24765537
Orange24715423
San Diego19371422
San Bernardino19043306
Fresno828288
Imperial7827135
Alameda7731148
Kern650297
Santa Clara6298166
San Joaquin627968
Tulare5678152
Sacramento548983
Stanislaus473251
Contra Costa466190
San Francisco452250
Ventura424653
San Mateo3949112
Santa Barbara393131
Marin343430
Kings291839
Monterey268218
Solano207528
Merced188412
Sonoma170316
Placer107711
San Luis Obispo9054
Madera8938
Yolo88428
Santa Cruz5693
Napa4774
Sutter3884
San Benito3622
Butte3384
Lassen3370
El Dorado3070
Shasta1956
Yuba1923
Humboldt1654
Glenn1640
Nevada1631
Colusa1130
Mendocino1130
Lake1081
Tehama1071
Tuolumne730
Calaveras670
Del Norte600
Mono511
Siskiyou410
Amador400
Inyo351
Mariposa311
Plumas170
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
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