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Gov. Carney settles lawsuit with church leader over pandemic restrictions


Gov. John Carney has settled a lawsuit over the state’s restrictions on gatherings in houses of worship early in the pandemic. 

Rev. Christopher Bullock of the Canaan Baptist Church in New Castle filed the lawsuit in May. He argued the 10-person limit on gatherings of any kind in April violated his constitutional religious freedoms.

Places of worship were allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity in May. Public health officials warned in June singing and preaching loudly in an enclosed space risked spreading the virus. Houses of Worship were allowed to start operating at 60 percent capacity later that month.

The terms of the settlement include forbidding the 10-person attendance limit in the future and listing churches as “essential businesses” in any future lockdowns, according to the plaintiffs lawyer. 

The settlement also prevents future restrictions specific to religious rituals, age limits on church attendance and time limits on length of church services.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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