STATESBORO, Ga. — When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended his shelter-in-place order, he included churches and religious organizations, and not following it could have consequences.
One south Georgia church is ignoring the order.
The overwhelming number of churches across Georgia are obeying the shelter-in-place order. No more than 10 people are allowed together, so many churches are putting their services online.
But some are not and that has a lot of people very worried.
Members of the Redeeming Love Church of God in Statesboro took video Sunday night as Georgia state troopers ordered them to break up a service for the second time that day.
Video from inside the church shows when leaders refused to comply with the governor’s shelter-in-place order, saying it violates their constitutional right to assemble.
“We’re to lay hands on the sick. The Bible tells us that. We’re the touch of agree. The Scriptures also tell us to serve communion and baptize. Those cannot be performed online,” Clayton Cowart said.
“The last thing we want to do is go out and go to this church and give citations,” Kemp said.
Kemp said most houses of worship are abiding by the shelter-in-place order and have come up with new creative ways to hold services, but he worries if the Statesboro church and others won’t comply, it could spread the virus among their communities.
“But the fact of the matter is, we got complaints. We went out there and asked nicely and dispersed them. And they were back that night. I mean, that is not how we need people to operate,” Kemp said.
Kemp says he doesn’t want to have to close houses of worship but didn’t say he wouldn’t do it if he has to.
But the Statesboro church’s leaders say, they’ll be open for worship this coming Sunday.
“Our church has made it clear in a proclamation, that we will not dismiss any of our services,” Cowart said.