USA – Police Officers Storm Mississippi Church for Hosting Drive-In Services

FaithWire | Tré Goins-Phillip | April 12, 2020

At least 20 police officers reportedly showed up outside a small church in Greenville, Mississippi, on Wednesday, threatening the pastor for hosting drive-in services.

Through the religious freedom legal group First Liberty Counsel, King James Bible Baptist Church Pastor Charleston Hamilton sent a letter to Mayor Errick Simmons, claiming the city had infringed on religious liberty.

“Your recent order prohibiting drive-in services leaves him in reasonable fear that he and his church members will be fined and criminally prosecuted for merely engaging in drive-in church services that fall well within the CDC guidelines,” read the letter. “We require Greenville, Mississippi, to withdraw the unconstitutional order that, disturbingly, targets religious exercise.”

All of this is in response to an order issued Tuesday by Simmons, who claimed drive-in church services — even if social distancing measures are appropriately observed — violate Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’ statewide shelter-in-place order.

The city’s ban on drive-in church gatherings like the one hosted at King James Bible Baptist Church, where congregants didn’t even get out of their vehicles, will remain in place until Reeves ends the restrictions established to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Hamilton, though, has no plans to back down. He is still planning to host a drive-in Easter service this Sunday.

The pastor posted about the incident on Facebook Live, showing viewers the numerous police squad cars in his church’s parking lot.

“I’m a good citizen here. I’m a pastor,” he said. “We ain’t got no crack house. We ain’t got no drugs. We ain’t got nothing going on here but preaching the word of God.”

“They are here messing with the church, messing with the pastor,” Hamilton continued. “Who’s patrolling the streets where the real crime is?”