Judge Denies Christian Group’s Challenge To Limits On Religious Gatherings In Colorado

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in a face mask.
David Zalubowski/AP
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis wearing his face mask during a news conference about the state’s efforts against the new coronavirus Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, in Denver.

Updated on Oct. 6, 2020 at 9:17 a.m.

A lawsuit seeking an exemption from public health orders that limit religious gatherings to 175 people in Colorado has stalled in U.S. District Court.

Judge Christine M. Arguello denied the challenge Tuesday, one day after conservative nonprofit Liberty Counsel filed the suit in Denver on behalf of Andrew Wommack Ministries. The group plans to appeal the ruling.

The lawsuit asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunctions on multiple coronavirus-related public health orders, including the capacity limits for events. Andrew Wommack Ministries has a conference scheduled to start on Mon., Oct. 5 in Woodland Park (just before the conference was scheduled to begin, a judge panel blocked it from going forward).

"Granting such an injunction would present a high risk of harm to the state of Colorado as well as the public generally," Arguello wrote in her denial. "The state has the responsibility to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 virus, which is made more difficult when case numbers increase."

The lawsuit argued the state is "discriminating against religious gatherings with restricted numerical and capacity limitations that are not imposed on non-religious gatherings," according to Liberty Counsel.

Arguello also ruled there is not enough evidence to prove that claim, and she pointed to other previous court rulings in similar cases.

This summer, health officials linked a large COVID-19 outbreak to a bible conference hosted by Andrew Wommack Ministries. In July, the Colorado Attorney General's office also sent a cease-and-desist letter to the group.