NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The pastor of an Albuquerque megachurch is speaking out after a federal judge denied his request to halt the state’s health order concerning churches.
“Take my civil liberties away because they think they should, the government. I have a major issue with that. Are we safe? yes. Are we doing social distancing? Yes. Are we complying with orders and not filling up our church with our members, yes,” said Pastor of Legacy Church Steve Smothermon.
Legacy Church was asking a judge in federal court for a temporary restraining order to overrule the state’s limits on group gatherings in churches. Legacy argued it should operate at 20% capacity like retail stores but a judge wrote his decision, the emergency public health order is neutral and it doesn’t single out churches and it’s in the public’s interest to take measures to limit the COVID-19 outbreak in New Mexico.
The day before Easter, the governor announced that places of worship must abide by the public health order banning mass gatherings to mitigate COVID-19 spread.
So the current public health order stands while Legacy continues to argue its case in court. Another hearing is scheduled for the end of the month. U.S. District Court Judge James O. Browning denied the temporary restraining order.
Meanwhile, Legacy Church is holding service in their parking lot Friday night where people can tune into a radio station and listen from their cars. Another service is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.