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US Kentucky pastor who held in-person Easter service won't self-quarantine for coronavirus

20:21  14 april  2020
20:21  14 april  2020 Source:   courier-journal.com

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The pastor of the Bullitt County church that held in-person Easter services despite Gov. Andy Beshear's order forbidding mass gatherings says he will not obey a notice to quarantine himself.

He's not the only one.

Jack Roberts, the pastor of Maryville Baptist Church in Hillview, received a notice on his windshield Sunday that he would be ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days because he was at a gathering of more than 10 people.

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Kentucky State Police placed the notices on empty cars in the church parking lot on Easter Sunday as Roberts was inside preaching.

Dozens of other parishioners who attended the service, as well as at least three people from other states, received quarantine notices. Several told The Courier Journal as they were leaving that they would ignore the orders.

a group of police officers riding on the back of a car: Kentucky State Police put notices on and recorded license plates of unoccupied cars at Maryville Baptist Church on Easter morning. April 12, 2020 © Scott Utterback/The Courier Journal Kentucky State Police put notices on and recorded license plates of unoccupied cars at Maryville Baptist Church on Easter morning. April 12, 2020

Roberts said that if the Bullitt County Health Department serves him an order to quarantine, he will ignore it while his lawyer handles it.

In an email, the Bullitt County Health Department said it is "still gathering information in regards to the participants who attended" the service and expects to have more information soon.

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a man wearing a suit and tie: Maryville Baptist Church pastor Jack Roberts reads the notice place on his truck by the Kentucky State Police while he was holding an in-person Easter service. April 12, 2020 © Scott Utterback/Courier Journal Maryville Baptist Church pastor Jack Roberts reads the notice place on his truck by the Kentucky State Police while he was holding an in-person Easter service. April 12, 2020

A Monday statement from KSP said notices were placed on 33 vehicles and that state police received 42 complaints about mass gatherings.

Maryville was the only one not following proper guidelines, KSP said.

Before the service, Roberts found piles of nails dumped at every church entrance to the parking lot.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who has sternly criticized social gatherings, condemned the vandals Monday.

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"Two wrongs don't make a right," Fischer said. "I've been very emphatic about encouraging people to stay at home, certainly not having in-person worship services, but then that doesn't give you the right, if you don't agree with it, to go out and put nails in the parking lot.

"It's an act of vandalism, and that should never be done. So, please, let's continue to treat each other with dignity and respect as we got through this."

Meanwhile, Roberts said he will keep his church's doors open, though two-thirds of his congregation have not been attending in-person services for the past several weeks.

In addition to in-person services, Maryville has been streaming services online and put a loudspeaker outside on Sunday so anyone who chose to could listen from their cars.

As far as Roberts knows, no one coming to his church has the coronavirus, he said, but he has encouraged everyone to be safe and do what they feel they need to do.

What he will not do, he said, is tell people they cannot come to church in person.

That applies to several attendees to his Easter service, including two from New Jersey and one from Ohio, whom Gov. Andy Beshear criticized in his Sunday evening press conference.

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"The state that had over 3,000 cases that may be the new epicenter," Beshear said Sunday night, referring specifically to New Jersey, where two women came to attend the Maryville service on their way to Tennessee for their ministry. "And because of this open invitation, even on a special day like today, just brought all of New Jersey's contacts into Kentucky."

But Roberts said the state shouldn't be trying to control what the church does, and he won't turn people away — no matter where they are from.

"The Baptist Church is not a church that's a club for members only," Roberts said Monday. "Our ministry is to reach everyone everywhere with the Gospel."

To deny people, even those from around the country, from coming to service would be "the most ridiculous thing that we could ever do," he said.

While Beshear and his health strategists have become more adamant about the dangers of mass gatherings, Rep. Thomas Massie and Sen. Rand Paul have both been outspoken in their opposition to license plate collection as punishment for failure to comply with social distancing guidelines.

"Taking license plates at church?" Paul, who has recovered from COVID-19, previously tweeted. "Quarantining someone for being Christian on Easter Sunday? Someone needs to take a step back here."

Easter churchgoers defiant after Kentucky troopers write down their license plate numbers

  Easter churchgoers defiant after Kentucky troopers write down their license plate numbers Maryville Baptist Church, in Hillview, Kentucky, held an in-person Easter service Sunday in defiance of state-backed orders.Inside the church, roughly 50 worshipers ignored Gov. Andy Beshear's order against mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic so they could attend services together on Christianity's holiest day.

Massie again on Monday condemned the Beshear-backed move: "It’s ironic that the same weekend the governor let 600 felons out of jail, he began tracking Christians. I wonder if the governor even tested the inmates for COVID-19 before releasing them," he said.

The inmates released were convicted of class C or D felonies, the state's least-serious felonies, and were screened for symptoms before their release, according to the Beshear administration.

They also represented a population most at risk of contracting the virus.

Reach breaking news reporter Sarah Ladd at sladd@courier-journal.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ladd_sarah. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky pastor who held in-person Easter service won't self-quarantine for coronavirus

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