Religious Freedom Watch: Kansas City Church Wins Settlement Over Religious Discrimination

A Kansas City-area Baptist megachurch has reached a $150,000 settlement with the county over coronavirus restrictions, with the church claiming that the county treated them more harshly than secular institutions when it came to COVID protocols.

Abundant Life Baptist Church, which has locations in Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs, Missouri, filed a lawsuit against Jackson County over a year ago, arguing, as places of worship in other states have, that the county’s coronavirus restrictions treated places of worship more harshly than secular institutions such as retail stores.

Under the terms of the settlement, Jackson County vowed that in exchange for the church dropping the lawsuit, it would ensure that future enforcement measures would not impose stricter requirements on religious organizations than their secular counterparts, the Christian Post reported.

Jackson is one of Missouri’s largest counties by population, and Abundant Life claims that some 4,500 people generally attend their services.

When the church filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri during May 2020, the county’s coronavirus restrictions limited church services to no more than 10 people, while stores, restaurants and bars did not have numerical limitations, but rather percentage-based limits, generally 10-25% of capacity.

The church argued that the rules went against both the First Amendment and the Missouri Constitution.

“If Abundant Life were to engage in retail sales, or served food and liquor as a bar, rather than religious worship at its Lee’s Summit location, Jackson County’s Phase I plan would allow 474 people in the building at a time while meeting or exceeding the CDC’s guidelines,” the lawsuit claims. Read more»

Josh McKweon | “Missouri Christian Church Wins Settlement Over COVID Restrictions on Worship” | National Catholic Register | October 21, 2021 (HT: D. G. Hart)


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. There are 3 counties in Kansas City, Missouri. Jackson, Clay and Platte, During much of the pandemic they have agreed to the same restrictions. Our church is in Kansas City – Platte County. We never found the restrictions to be onerus and found ways to worship within compliance. Recently, the restrictions have been removed from religious organizations. However, we continue to encourage wearing masks because of our concern for other people.
    As a church leader I have followed this closely and I have to wonder why Abundant Life Baptist Church took this approach.

    • Francis,

      Thanks for this. I served a congregation in Clay County for six years. According to the summary provided by the court, the congregation went to court because of the inequitable treatment churches received as compared to secular institutions. This was a problem across the USA especially during the first part of the pandemic. The Supreme Court even addressed this and this is why the civil authorities paid damage. They acted unconstitutionally. They stood up for religious liberty.

      If you take a look at the resources posted below the article I have been arguing from the beginning both for religious liberty and humble submission to the authorities. We need not choose between them. As Christians we live in what Calvin called a “twofold government,” sacred and secular and we have responsibilities to both of these spheres. It is a fine line and we will not always get it right but we do have to pursue righteousness in both.

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