UPDATE: Following a joint letter from Shanahan Law Group and Alliance Defending Freedom alleging Wake County’s Stay at Home Order unconstitutionally discriminated against houses of worship, Wake County announced late Friday evening changes to its Stay at Home Order to allow churches performing drive-in services to observe communion and receive tithes and offerings. 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.”
Raleigh-based Shanahan Law Group, PLLC (SLG) has joined with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to demand that Wake County repeal portions of its April 15, 2020 First Amendment to Proclamation of Emergency Restrictions which violate the First Amendment rights of churches. SLG and ADF’s letter to Wake County states that they have been contacted by multiple Wake County churches concerned with the order and outlines why the restrictions unconstitutionally treat churches and other houses of worship worse than similarly situated secular organizations. The letter specifically points out that the bans on distribution of communion elements and in-person collection of tithes at drive-in services are unreasonable in light of similar exceptions for private businesses.
“While it is important to take COVID-19 seriously, a global pandemic does not erase our constitutional rights, nor does it give government officials license to discriminate against churches and other houses of worship,” said former federal prosecutor Kieran J. Shanahan, founder of Shanahan Law Group. “Wake County crossed the line by targeting faith-based organizations with restrictions beyond those placed on private businesses.”