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Jackson County Settles COVID-19 Rules Lawsuit with Church

Jackson County officials on Monday approved a settlement with a church that had sued over COVID-19 restrictions that it claimed discriminated against religion.

The Jackson County Legislature voted Monday to approve a $146,750 payment to Abundant Life Baptist Church and attorney Jonathan Whitehead. The county also agreed that any future health restrictions would not be more onerous than restrictions on secular gatherings, the Kansas City Star reported. 

The county and University Health, formerly known as Truman Medical Centers, will pay the settlement. University Health operates the county health department. 

Abundant Life attracts thousands to its services in Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit. Under the COVID-19 recovery plan in place when the lawsuit was filed in March 2020, church services were included with other large gatherings and social events that were limited to no more than 10 people. 

At the same time, non-essential stores, restaurants, and bars were not facing numerical limitations and were allowed to reopen if they followed the social distancing recommendations from federal health officials. 

The U.S. Supreme Court has since ruled that limiting the size of Bible studies and prayer meetings was an unconstitutional restriction on religious rights, and the Jackson County settlement cites three other court cases with similar rulings.

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