North Carolina religious services may move indoors after judge block's governor's order

The judge said such limits violate the right to worship freely

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GREENVILLE, N.C. — A federal judge on Saturday blocked the enforcement of restrictions that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper ordered affecting indoor religious services during the coronavirus pandemic.

CHURCH SERVICES DISRUPTED BY LIMITED ZOOM OUTAGES

The order from Judge James C. Dever III came days after two Baptist churches, a minister and a Christian revival group filed a federal lawsuit seeking to immediately block enforcement of rules within the Democratic governor's executive orders regarding religious services.

Dever agreed with the plaintiffs, who argued that the limits violate their right to worship freely and treat churches differently from retailers and other secular activities.

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks as House Speaker Tim Moore looks on during a Raleigh briefing May 4, 2020. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

Cooper's latest order still largely prevented most faith organizations from holding indoor services attended by more than 10 people. His office had said the newest order stating permitted services may "take place outdoors unless impossible" carries only a narrow exception, such as when religious activities dictate they occur indoors with more people.

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Cooper's spokesman, Ford Porter, said the governor's office disagrees with the decision but will not appeal.

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