Last week, a federal court in North Carolina issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the assembly of religious worship provisions in Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 138 (EO-138). The court found that EO-138 was likely to violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Under EO-138, all worship services involving more than 10 people must be held “outdoors unless impossible.” Governor Cooper’s Director of Legislative Affairs issued a “Guidance for Religious Services and Mass Gathering Restrictions” that provides:
In situations where it is not possible to conduct worship services outdoors or through other accommodations – such as through, for example a series of indoor services of ten or fewer attendees or through on-line services – the ten-person attendance limit on indoor worship services does not apply. For example, there may be situations where particular religious beliefs dictate that some or all of a religious service must be held indoors and that more than ten persons must be in attendance.