ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque megachurch is now suing the state claiming the governor violated the first amendment that protects the freedom of religion. Specifically, it’s focused on the church’s Easter Sunday service and the number of people it takes to live stream to its congregation.
Almost all churches that have the capability to live stream or record their services have done so. However, for Legacy Church, they say in order to have put on their Easter Sunday service, they needed far more people inside the church then currently allowed under the governor’s amended order.
“Really what I consider a very egregious act on her part that at 5 o’clock on Saturday she puts out this new order for churches basically not making churches essential when they were before, and she does it on the eve of Easter,” said Head Pastor Steve Smothermon.
Smothermon of Legacy Church filed suit requesting a temporary restraining order but also a permanent injunction affording them the same restrictions as local essential retailers, limiting capacity to 20%. Smothermon says to hold Sunday’s service they would have a worship team, a band, the pastor and technical staff. A group of about 30 people. Therefore, conducting the live-streamed services would immediately violate the governor’s order to limit gatherings to no more than five people.
“We wouldn’t be able to put on the quality that we have and the engagement that we’re able to do and look people in the eye, you know through the camera and say you know we can’t be there but we’re together. And I think it would hinder our quality,” said Smothermon. The pastor also took to Twitter last night publically announcing the lawsuit. He went on to say what she did, and how she did it was evil.
In a statement from the governor’s office, a spokesperson said, the amended order clearly allows audio and visual broadcasting of services. They went on to say countless congregations are live streaming within the public health and safety boundaries set in the order. Smothermon said they will continue to do what they need to, to put together their service.