WASHINGTON, DC — On Friday, Muslim Advocates joined with Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a diverse coalition of civil rights and faith organizations to submit an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in support of Illinois’ stay-at-home order issued by Governor J.B. Pritzker. This order required, among other widely-applicable restrictions, that houses of worship limit in-person gatherings to 10 people until May 29. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church defied the order and sued the governor in federal court, seeking an unrestricted ability to gather in-person.
A district court upheld the stay-at-home order, but the church appealed that decision to the Seventh Circuit. Since then, Gov. Pritzker has rescinded the order as it applies to religious institutions. The amicus brief argues that since the order has been rescinded, the church’s argument is moot. However, if the court does not consider the case moot, the brief argues that it should still find that temporary restrictions on in-person worship, when applied equally, particularly during a public health crisis, do not violate religious freedom and serve public health.
“Preserving life is an act of faith, and most people of faith, including American Muslims, understand the importance of life-saving restrictions on public gatherings during a public health emergency,” said Muslim Advocates Staff Attorney Nimra Azmi. “More than 100,000 Americans have been killed by COVID-19 and that number continues to rise. We hope that the Seventh Circuit recognizes that commonsense restrictions on public gatherings, even for houses of worship, during a deadly pandemic do not violate the Constitution, especially when applied equally to all religions.”
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Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.