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Ticketed in a parking lot? Only at church in this town...

Mat Staver

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In a recent chilling video, the police of Greenville, Mississippi ticketed people who were sitting in their cars with windows rolled up in a church parking lot, as they listened to their pastor preach. If these same people had been in their cars listening to the radio in the Home Depot parking lot, it would have been permissible. But because these people were parked at Temple Baptist Church's parking lot listening to the pastor across the lot preaching — they were each given a court summons with a $500 fine.

These people were alone in their car, the windows rolled up, with empty parking spaces between the cars. There was no chance they could have spread the virus—before the police showed up.

Numerous officers fanned the parking lot. They forced people to roll down their windows, handle paper and pen from an officer without gloves who was standing immediately outside their window to hand them a ticket.

Through your faxes, the governor of Mississippi has heard your voice. He recently categorized religious gatherings and faith-based groups as essential and exempt from shutdown, as long as they follow the Center for Disease Control's guidelines, such as 6 ft spacing. This church was going above and beyond. In a radio interview, the governor even cited parking lot or drive-in churches as an example of church innovation he approves.

But Greenville, Mayor Erick Simmons, issued an executive order defying the governor's encouragement to allow drive-in church services, among other things. He instructed the police to stop and ticket anyone in a church or drive-in parking lot service.

That's when my legal team stepped in. We sent a letter yesterday requesting that the City of Greenville withdraw the order, and rescind any tickets issued to attendees of drive-in church services in Greenville.

Tickets, just like the one issued to Chris Owens who recorded the interaction on his phone and directly asked the police officer, "Even though the governor said twice today that you cannot stop in-parking lot church services, y'all still are going to try to stop it?" The unnamed police officer replied, "I'm not aware of that."

"A retired nurse," Owens described himself in a southern drawl, "Never bothered nobody. Being threatened to go to jail for going to church." He now has a court date for June 8.

Liberty Counsel Action has added the fax numbers for this mayor and the majority of his city councilmembers to our fax system today. This is just one of the MANY locations springing up across America that have created unconstitutional orders across America. Help us change these bad policies with good precedent. Make your voice heard with a fax directly to these leaders to hold these local's leader's feet to the fire and echo the demand letter my legal team sent yesterday.

Meanwhile, the governor of Montana issued a directive last night to declare the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy as "essential" while churches are not. On the Governor's official letterhead, he said these "magical creatures" were essential to Montanans. So, the pagan fertility bunny is essential, but the Resurrection of Jesus we celebrate on Easter is not?

Many churches have gone online. But some churches cannot switch all their ministries online.

A pastor in Virginia was charged criminally because he had 16 people in a 293-seat sanctuary – six people over the governor's number. This church does not have internet, and neither do the former drug addicts and prostitutes it serves. To these people the church family is the ONLY family. They need their family in order to survive each week.

Some churches have been forced to stop feeding and clothing the poor. The Body of Christ is diverse, and each church is essential in some way. While protecting the health of all concerned, pastors need the freedom to decide what is the best way to minister moment by moment, instead of a blanket, one-size-fits-all order issued quickly by a government official.

Help us restore our constitution by sending a fax to these leaders today.

Today, is Good Friday. We remember and honor Jesus for his willing submission to be dragged as a perfectly innocent man into court. He was under intense pressure, maligned by his brothers (until the Resurrection), and condemned to death. We cannot begin to imagine the weight of sin that lay so heavy on Him that in Gethsemane he sweat drops of blood.

There are many pastors and church-goers right now that are facing their own cross this weekend. While you drive to any "essential" store and wait in long lines to pay or even enter, the doors of many churches and ministries are closed.

In parts of America, on Good Friday, it is illegal to get in your car, roll up your windows, and sit in a church parking lot to hear an Easter message. And if the six extra people show up this Sunday at the Virginia church, they will face criminal charges. For some, this could mean their probation will be revoked, and they will go directly to jail.

My friends, this breaks my heart. I have wept often for the many people we serve. Our legal team continues to work overtime to fix every injustice in our nation with the resources we have.

Would you consider partnering with us today? Any donation that you give above the cost of a fax goes straight to our organization's ability to find and fight these battles. It would be a huge encouragement to our team to hear from you right now, especially when we are stretched so thin across America. Give now.

Thank you for your time, prayers, and support today. I deeply appreciate your involvement in these issues. Without it, we couldn't do anything.


Mat Staver



P.S. We cannot allow cities, counties, or even entire states to continue to target churches and pastors and attack them with more restrictions than they place on secular locations and for-profit business owners. Now is the time to pressure our leaders to remember our rights enshrined in the Constitution. Send your fax now.

Please forward this email to your friends and family to help us beat the censorship of Big Tech who has been blocking and shadow banning Christian organizations like ours. Help us spread the truth about this amazing church and pastor.

Finally, if you can support Liberty Counsel Action with a donation of any size today, we would deeply appreciate your partnership with us. God bless you. 

Liberty Counsel Action is a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt non-profit organization. Donations are not tax-deductible.

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©1986-present Liberty Counsel Action. Founded in 1986, Liberty Counsel Action is a law and policy education, training and advocacy organization. From offices in Washington, DC and Orlando, Florida, LCA advances religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, the family, responsible government, national security, and support for Israel at the federal, state, and local levels. Liberty Counsel Action is a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Donations are not tax deductible.

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