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Friday, January 15, 2021 1:15pm

Washington governor allows one-on-one Bible study during coronavirus pandemic after lawsuit


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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee amended his March order banning religious gatherings of any size Friday to allow home-based Bible study and prayer after one man sued the state.

Joshua Freed, represented by First Liberty Institute and the North Creek Law Firm, sued the state last month demanding he is allowed to hold a one-on-one Bible study amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Democratic governor’s March 23 order prohibited religious gatherings of any size, with exemptions for “essential” businesses, including retail, grocery, media and cannabis.

However, on Friday last week, an attorney for Inslee informed Freed during a hearing at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington that he could conduct the Bible studies.

FILE - In this Monday, April 13, 2020, file photo, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Inslee has repeatedly said he will rely on scientific models and input from state health officials to determine when stay-at-home orders can be relaxed, despite growing calls for them to be ended, including a protest that drew about 2,500 to the state Capitol. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

FILE – In this Monday, April 13, 2020, file photo, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Inslee has repeatedly said he will rely on scientific models and input from state health officials to determine when stay-at-home orders can be relaxed, despite growing calls for them to be ended, including a protest that drew about 2,500 to the state Capitol. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

“Religious community, even one-on-one Bible study, is essential to many people of faith,” Mark Lamb, owner and founder of North Creek Law, said in a statement to Fox News. “We are grateful that, in this challenging time for our country, Gov. Inslee was willing to concede that the ban does not apply to Joshua Freed’s home Bible study.”

Freed and his wife have hosted Bible studies in their home for the past two and a half years.

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When they tried to host virtual Bible studies, they realized it wasn’t going to work, given technical glitches and a lack of privacy and closeness.

“The governor conceded that Mr. Freed can have a one-on-one Bible study and that he will not enforce the rules against home Bible studies on a one-on-one basis,” Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel at First Liberty, explained. “The governor’s attorneys, during the proceeding, made various statements that indicate the governor may not take any steps to enforce any shutdown orders that affect religious activities even beyond the Bible study at issue.”

A man holds a sign in view of the Capitol building at a protest opposing Washington state's stay-home order to slow the coronavirus outbreak Sunday, April 19, 2020, in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A man holds a sign in view of the Capitol building at a protest opposing Washington state’s stay-home order to slow the coronavirus outbreak Sunday, April 19, 2020, in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Freed sought to hold outdoor one-on-one Bible studies with only one meeting per day. He said he would follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that include wearing a mask and gloves and keeping a distance of at least six feet.

Freed’s case comes as the University of Washington professor behind a top coronavirus model told “Cavuto LIVE” over the weekend it’s the “right time” for the Evergreen State to reopen as unrest continues to grow.

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On Saturday, Republican Rep. Matt Shea rallied with hundreds of Washingtonians protesting Inslee’s stay-at-home order on the Capitol campus in Olympia, The Olympian reports.

“We don’t need to be asking permission,” Shea said. “We just need to reopen our businesses and our churches… We will stand on the Constitution.”



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