Oregon Churches Seek to Reopen, File Suit Against Gov. Brown

  Ten Oregon churches from all over the state have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kate Brown in the Baker County Circuit Court, citing that her executive orders are infringing on their constitutional rights.   

What the complaint says: The official complaint states: “Plaintiffs have been irreparably harmed every day beyond April 7, 2020, the date on which the state of emergency declared in Executive Order 20-03 ceased to exist by law. Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law beyond injunctive relief prohibiting defendant GOVERNOR from enforcing Executive Order 20-12 and any other orders that may impinge on Plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected religious freedoms.”  

Religious leaders have also signed on: Besides the ten churches who have signed on as plaintiffs, individual religious leaders have also shown their support for the lawsuit, including pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Brian Nicholson, pastor at Lake Bible Church in Lake Oswego James Thwing, leadership member at Calvary Chapel in Lebanon Mark Russell, pastor at Camas Valley Christian Fellowship Ronald Rust, and pastor of an unnamed church in Wallowa Micah Agnew.  

What the churches want the court to do: The churches and religious leaders are specifically asking for the court to issue a temporary restraining order that will block Gov. Brown from enforcing her executive order against churches, claiming that COVID-19 cases in Oregon have not been serious enough to warrant the closure of places of worship for this amount of time.   

Despite these arguments, the plaintiffs have been following executive orders to stay home.   

The specific plaintiffs: Located from Portland to Lincoln City, the following churches are demanding that Gov. Kate Brown allow them to reopen, asserting that she only had authority to extend the executive order 30 days, expiring on April 7: Elkhorn Baptist Church in Baker City, Calvary Chapel in Newberg, Calvary Chapel in Lincoln City, Calvary Chapel in Southeast Portland, New Horizon Christian Fellowship in Klamath Falls, Camas Valley Christian Fellowship, Peoples Church in Salem, Bend Community Church, Prepare the Way in Bend and Covenant Grace Church in Roseburg.  

By Cara Nixon