Neuberger Demands That Carney Lift Restrictions On Worshipping Now

High profile Wilmington attorney demands that Governor Carney lifts restrictions on religious worshipping.

Today, in a six-page demand letter from its attorneys, the Committee To Save Christmas demanded that Governor Carney stop his illegal discrimination against religious worship, as well as peaceable protests by the faith community.

Declaring that fear of imprisonment prevented Christians from attending Church services on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, the Committee noted that Carney criminalized the communal celebration of Easter and barred citizens from gathering in their churches for this most holy day of the year. This must never happen again. With eight months now remaining before the communal celebration of Christmas, now is the time for Carney to take proper steps to allow religious worship inside churches, synagogues, and mosques, provided social distancing and other generally applicable health related precautions are responsibly practiced by the religious congregations. Otherwise, Christmas this year also will be criminalized here in Delaware.

More specifically, Carney’s orders allow secular activities but not religious worship activities. Grocery stores, law firms, laundromats, liquor stores, and landscaping businesses, among others, continue to operate so long as they follow social distancing and other health-related precautions. But Carney’s Orders “do not permit soul-sustaining group services of faith organizations, even if the groups adhere to all the public health guidelines required of the other services.” Under his Orders, a person can go out to a liquor store to buy beer but cannot go out to their church to worship God. Such a distinction cannot stand, because if beer is ‘essential,’ so is Christmas.

While Carney’s emergency Orders, criminalizing Easter worship and services within the walls of church sanctuaries, can be viewed as an honest mistake, the Committee urged him to correct that mistake and ensure it is not repeated in the future. Provided churches practice the generally applicable social distancing requirements, religious service attendance must be permitted, it demanded.

While the state has an obvious interest in preventing the spread of infectious disease, its restrictions of the fundamental right to communal worship must be the least restrictive means practically available. And, if the state permits social interaction for commercial or other purposes, as occurred here in Delaware, but denies similar social interaction for religious exercise, this is not using the least restrictive means to regulate First Amendment-protected activity and Carney’s Orders are illegal, unconstitutional and cry out for correction.

As one federal court recently held – “If social distancing is good enough for Home Depot and Kroger, it is good enough for in-person religious services which, unlike the foregoing, benefit from constitutional protection.” Tabernacle Baptist Church, Inc. v. Beshear, – F.Supp.3d –, 2020 WL 2305307, at *5 (E.D. Ky. May 8, 2020).

The time of emergency is coming to an end, and there are many months to thoughtfully prepare for a Fall surge of the virus. But the illegal hurried infringements of vital constitutional freedoms will remain on the books as precedents unless these past errors are corrected to return to the normal before this crisis arose. Absent those corrections being made the Committee expects legal action would be taken in federal court to prevent the repeat of the discriminatory mistakes of the past.

Read The Letter Here – 2020_05_13_Carney demand letter signed

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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at

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