Wake County announced April 24 that churches may now use prepacked communion elements and allow congregants to drop tithes and other monetary donations into boxes at drive-in church services.
Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Shanahan Law Group sent a letter April 24 to Wake County regarding an April 15 amendment to its COVID-19 emergency proclamation that unconstitutionally treats churches and other houses of worship worse than similarly situated non-religious organizations.
ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker said, “We commend Wake County for taking action this evening. We look forward to churches being able to conduct drive-in services with the freedom to safely serve communion and receive donations this Sunday without fear of government punishment.”
The letter pointed out that the amendment’s bans on the distribution of communion elements and in-person collection of tithes at drive-in church services are unreasonable in light of similar exceptions for private businesses. For example, drive-in church services are not permitted to serve communion even if the elements are commercially prepacked and little or no person-to-person interaction takes place, but restaurants and food stores are under no such restrictions. Likewise, citizens are banned at such services from dropping tithes and other monetary donations into a bucket with little or no person-to-person interaction, but the exchange of cash and credit cards at businesses is not prohibited.
“The government is not being neutral toward religion when it treats religious groups and individuals worse than everyone else,” said Tucker.
“We support the efforts of public officials to prioritize health and safety, but it is illogical and unconstitutional to apply government orders in a way that singles out churches for harsher treatment. We are asking the county to repeal its ban and avoid the need for any litigation over the matter.”