GOP gubernatorial candidate sues Inslee to lift religious gathering restrictions

Joshua Freed
Credit: Joshua Freed for Governor

BOTHELL, Wash. — A candidate for governor filed a lawsuit against Governor Jay Inslee Wednesday over restrictions on religious gatherings under Washington’s stay home order.

In his lawsuit, GOP candidate Joshua Freed said restrictions on religious gatherings violate the Constitution.

The lawsuit quotes Inslee, who said people cannot go to their places of worship under the order, which prohibits all gatherings, public and private.

“This makes it clear that the Governor’s ban is not just on large religious gatherings but rather an absolute and total ban for a single individual seeking guidance from a bible study leader, rabbi, imam, pastor or spiritual support group, regardless of whether the participants employ social distancing, hygiene, and other efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the lawsuit states.

Freed’s lawsuit explains that he leads a Bible study at home with his wife every week.

“The number of attendees is small and Mr. Freed’s home allows the services to be held outdoors when weather permits,” the lawsuit says.

Freed’s lawsuit calls for an emergency injunction to lift part of Inslee’s order that restricts “all public and private gatherings and multi-person activities for social, spiritual and recreational purposes, regardless of the number of people involved, except as specifically identified herein.”

Tara Lee, Inslee’s Communications Director, said religious counseling is deemed essential under the stay home order.

“To the greatest extent possible, religious counseling, like all counseling, should be conducted remotely. If remote counseling is not possible, in-person counseling may be conducted while following all social distancing and sanitizing practices,” Lee said. “We recognize that it is difficult for people to not be able to attend church or synagogue or other houses of worship. As with all limitations, the order is to help slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”

Freed’s lawsuit said he will attempt to offer streaming services, but seeks to have the option to legally move his weekly Bible study outdoors, while practicing social distancing.

As of Wednesday, the stay home order is still set to expire on May 4, though Inslee has said that is subject to change. He said Tuesday night that the state’s reopening will be gradual and decisions will be made following health models.

Freed’s full lawsuit can be read here. 

Complaint for Declaratory J… by Erin Robinson on Scribd

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