No Legal Bar to Religious Re-Openings in Illinois

As religious leaders continue to grapple with appropriate COVID-related safety measures for their congregants, a federal appellate court recently clarified that no legal barrier exists under Illinois law for religious gatherings. In Cassells and the Beloved Church vs. Snyder, issued on March 8, 2021, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recognized that religious organizations may legally gather as they wish – consistent with their First Amendment religious freedom and assembly rights, and otherwise in accordance with appropriate health and safety considerations – since the prior Executive Order prohibiting religious gatherings of more than ten people is no longer in effect. This significant court ruling dovetails with Illinois’ accelerating re-opening efforts, lightened capacity restrictions, and enormous push toward widespread vaccinations.

Now Press "Record" - or Not?

Shouting “Amen” at a computer screen may have seemed unusual 12 months ago, but COVID-19 has changed many ministry organizations’ approach to Sunday worship, Bible studies, and prayer gatherings. More broadly, nonprofits have been forced to significantly change their board governance, staff meetings, fundraising events, membership engagement, and other program activities. To continue carrying out such activities in the pandemic’s midst, organizations have had to move gatherings from in-person to online, using platforms like Zoom, Facebook Live, or YouTube. Likewise, many employees and volunteers now work and serve remotely as the new norm, with videoconferences substituting for in-person meetings and program activities.