July 6, 2020

Mississippi Baptist church members fined $500 for going to drive-in service in violation of coronavirus ordinance

The parking lots of two Baptist churches in a Mississippi Delta town were pretty full last week. And then the police showed up and started handing out $500 tickets.

Members of Temple Baptist Church and King James Baptist Bible Church said they were worshipping inside their vehicles during drive-in church services listening over their car radios.

Greenville police then arrived and started tapping on car windows, offering the occupants a chance to leave or get a $500 ticket.

Police said the church goers were violating the city’s recent emergency ordinance prohibiting public gatherings, including church services. The ordinance was part of the city’s reaction to try to curb spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“They started issuing tickets, $500 tickets, it may have been 50 — I mean 20 to 30 tickets. Everybody got one, it wasn’t per car,” said Lee Gordon a Temple member and Washington County supervisor told WLBT-TV.

The TV station reported that King James Baptist Church is suing Greenville Mayor Erick Simmons over the matter.

The city says the drive-in services violates the ordinance.

Temple Baptist Church told WLBT the church plans to have service on Easter Sunday.