Abundant Life Baptist Church files suit against Jackson County for gathering limit

Posted at 10:58 AM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 11:58:41-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Abundant Life Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit has filed a lawsuit against Jackson County, the county health department and county officials for “unconstitutional and unlawful discrimination against religious institutions and persons in orders and plans.”

The dispute arises from public health orders the county enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, Jackson County officials announced the first phase of their reopening plan, which allows for some non-essential business to reopen given they follow social distancing guidelines and restrict the number of people allowed inside a building.

Under Jackson County’s plan, retail stores, personal services, and restaurants and bars serving food are allowed to reopen.

Those businesses must restrict the number of people inside based on the square footage of their buildings.

Churches, however, are subject to a 10-person gathering limit regardless of square footage, according to the lawsuit.

Abundant Life argues in the suit that Jackson County’s “orders impermissibly discriminate against religiously-motivated gatherings, and in favor of commercially-motivated gatherings.”

The church noted that the county’s plan differs from the plan in Kansas City, Missouri, where churches are permitted to resume services under square-footage rules.

Abundant Life, which also has a location in Blue Springs, argues in the lawsuit that Jackson County’s order unfairly places greater restrictions on churches in eastern parts of the county.

Last week, according to Abundant Life’s filing, the church reached out to county health officials asking for a meeting to discuss the restrictions, but they only directed them to the county’s website for direction.

41 Action News has reached out to the county for comment on the lawsuit.