Churches File Lawsuit Against Gov. Whitmer: Executive Orders Violate Religious Freedoms

Religious leaders have filed a lawsuit against Governor Whitmer.

They claim her executive orders violate their religious freedom. Untitled Project

One of those leaders is a Northern Michigan pastor.

Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church’s pastor is one of several religious leaders filing lawsuits.

“We can do these things responsibly,” said attorney David Kallman, who represents the religious leaders from across the state suing Governor Whitmer.

“Everybody in our state, everybody in our country has first amendment rights to exercise their religious beliefs,” Kallman said. “Also they have the right to freely assemble.”

In the lawsuit filed in US District Court, they say the Governor’s orders violate their religious freedoms.

The lawsuit says several of the filing churches, including Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church, have plans in place to safely open this month.

“Churches can meet safely,” Kallman said. “We are saying do it responsibly, follow the CDC guidelines, do all the things that need to be done.”

Executive orders have stated places of worship are exempt from penalties.

Kallman says it does not exempt religious leaders or individuals in attendance.

“If that’s the intent, if the Governor is saying ‘churches can open, follow the CDC guidelines we’re not going to prosecute any individual who goes to church,’ well let’s sign a stipulated order to that effect and we’ll dismiss this lawsuit today,” Kallman said.

The pastor of Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church is Stanley “Rusty” Chatfield, the father of Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield.

9&10 News asked Kallman: “are you concerned at all about people saying this a partisan lawsuit and not about religious freedom?”

“Well I don’t see just because somebody’s related to somebody else it makes it partisan we have had no discussion with Speaker Chatfield about this lawsuit,” Kallman said. “Pastor Chatfield contacted us, I did not contact him.”

At her press conference, Governor Whitmer was asked about this lawsuit.

“With regard to lawsuits, I can’t really comment on pending litigation,” Whitmer said. “I’ll just observe that every single order that I have issued has, I think, been well within our legal authority and driven by our best science and epidemiology. We have acknowledged the different treatment for places of worship in the orders so I’m not going to opine too much on the merits suit but I’m confident in our position.”

Stay with Northern Michigan’s News Leader as we continue working to bring you the latest developments on these lawsuits.

Categories: Coronavirus