Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) has won a settlement of $220,000 from the District of Columbia and the mayor; the result of suing them both for shutting down their church services and capping attendance to 10 people during the pandemic; an act which CHBC claimed violated their religious liberties.
At the time CHBC wrote in a statement that their church structure and foundational beliefs made gathering together as one body fundamental to their beliefs, noting:
A weekly in-person worship gathering of the entire congregation is a religious conviction for which there is no substitute…the Church does not offer virtual worship services, it does not utilize a multi-site model, and it does not offer multiple Sunday morning worship services….
Since its founding in 1878, CHBC has met in-person every Sunday except for three weeks during the Spanish Flu in 1918. That changed following Mayor Bowser’s first orders concerning COVID-19 on March 11, 2020. Since that time, the members of CHBC—most of whom live in the District—have been unable to meet in person, as one congregation inside District limits (even outdoors).
Christianity Today reports that “In a settlement agreement and release approved on Thursday, the city agreed to pay $220,000 to the counsels representing the church, which broke down to $210,000 for the law firm WilmerHale and $10,000 for the national legal nonprofit First Liberty Institute.”
Furthermore, as part of the settlement agreement, the district agrees that they won’t enforce any future gathering restrictions on them, and if ever another public health crisis occurs, they must treat them the same as any other secular business in terms of restricting their capacities and limits.
We last touched bases with CHBC after revealing that their lead pastor and The Gospel Coalition member, Mark Dever, is a registered Democrat, observing they and 9Marks Ministry took up to $350,000 in PPP loans and knocking Dever for employing some gross revisionism history when it came to the death of Trayvon Martin,.