DENVER (CBS4) – In what was called a victory for religious freedom, a federal court judge’s decision Thursday means congregants at Colorado churches will no longer be required to wear masks or limit their numbers as required by the governor of Colorado’s COVID-19 mandates.

The pastors of two Colorado churches — Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church in Wheat Ridge and Joey Rhoads of Community Baptist Church in Brighton – filed the lawsuit in August.

“The lawsuit,” said Special Counsel Rebecca Messall, one of the Thomas More Society attorneys representing the Colorado pastors, “calls both the federal government and Colorado leaders into account for their violations of the right to free exercise of religion, among other abuses of power, primarily resulting from Gov. Jared Polis’ COVID-19 related Executive Orders.”

The battle is not over, however.

A spokesperson from the governor’s office on Thursday said there would be no comment on the case but called it “pending litigation.” She indicated the state’s Attorney General filed an emergency motion for an injunction on Monday to keep the orders in place.

The state plans to appeal the federal judge’s decision.

RELATED: Colorado Lawmaker Threatens To Sue Gov. Polis Over Statewide Mask Mandate | Polis Urges Careful Behavior To Prevent ‘Big Third Wave’

Polis issued a statewide mask mandate on July 16 after what he called a “significant uptick” in the number of cases. It required everyone in the state who is age 11 and older to wear a mask whenever they were in public and indoors. The only exemptions were medical ones.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico stated, “…the Constitution does not allow the State to tell a congregation how large it can be when comparable secular gatherings are not so limited, or to tell a congregation that its reason for wishing to remove facial coverings is less important than a restaurant’s or spa’s.”

Colorado Governor Jared Polis enacts a mask mandate in a July 16th address to the state. (credit: CBS)

Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church said he was mildly optimistic before the judge’s order.

“It’s like ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’,” Enyart told CBS4. “If it was a true emergency, people would be inclined to ignore government orders because of government’s overreach. There’s so much evidence coming out that the lockdown is hurting people.”

“We hope other churches will follow along.”

In their own words, the churches’ attorneys argued that “Colorado imposes capacity limits on houses of worship that are more severe than those that apply to other so-called critical businesses whose settings pose a similar risk of COVID-19 transmission. The state also allows a variety of exceptions to its facial-covering requirement where it recognizes that removing a mask is necessary to carry out a particular activity.”

Logan Smith

Comments (10)
  1. Michelle Doby says: Please go to this website to find a signing location near you let’s take back Colorado! Also join the recall Polis 2020 Facebook page. This man must go!

  2. Zane Gordon says:

    Restricting religious freedom cannot be tolerated. We currently have a solid court system that protects people’s freedoms. How long will this system remain?

    All “emergency” powers that the governor has enacted should be reversed. There should be a defined time limit, and that time limit should be short.

  3. johan thuruthickara says:

    All social organizations including Churches have a responsibility to protect the people they serve. Those people DO NOT live in isolation. When they or their loved ones fall sick they expect the healthcare system to attend to them. That is the social contract we live in. If they can’t follow simple guidelines to protect the society, it is clear evidence to their hypocrisy, they should update their missions.

    1. Zane Gordon says:

      Thank you for the comment.

      I have to disagree. Social institutions do not have responsibilities to protect people. Government institutions have that responsibility. People have a responsibility to protect themselves when that protection is from the government or from something the government cannot protect them. Infringement by the government on religious freedom would be one of those people protecting themselves from the government.

  4. Dominique says:

    Good, if people want to take the risk, let them. It’s called personal responsibility, if you don’t want the risk, just stay home

  5. Hildegarde DeCrescentis says:

    The pandemic is NOT over. If Congregants are not allowed to wear masks or social distance then the numbers of this virus will continue to rise. My husband and I will not attend church because of ideas like these. We will not expose our selves to people who may be infected with the virus.

    1. Matt Wilkinson says:

      Congregants ARE allowed to wear masks if they go out. They’re just not REQUIRED. And that is a good thing. People should be allowed to decide on their own if they’re willing to risk a .003% chance of getting and dying from the virus. You stay home and be afraid, the rest of us will live life to the fullest.

  6. Mary Welter says:

    Tell my parents who are 92, whose grandaughter has Covid, whose daughter and family has chosen to quarantine to keep them from the virus, that it is OK for them to walk into a BIBLE church. HAVE YOU GUYS read that we are to OBEY the laws of the land. DON”T BE STUPID!!!!!!!!

  7. Dwight Smith says:

    Psalm 2
    1 Why do the nations conspire
    and the peoples plot in vain?
    2 The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
    against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
    3 Let us break their chains
    and throw off their shackles.
    4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
    the Lord scoffs at them.

  8. Dwight Smith says:

    Hey Emperor Polis. Let my people go. The pandemic is over. Your intentions are obvious. It’s all about control.

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