Police first descended on Temple Baptist Church on Wednesday, issuing $500 fines to about two dozen people attending a “drive-in” prayer service. They were listening to the lesson on the radio, much like you do at a drive-in movie theater.
“The police officer said I might go to jail,” Temple Baptist Church Pastor Arthur Scott said on The Todd Starnes Radio Show. “If it means going to jail and if it takes that for me to keep preaching, I’ll be glad to go to jail…One of the police officers said the mayor wanted to make an example of our church. I told them to get some more tickets ready because we will be preaching Sunday morning and Sunday night.”
Making sure the city got their point across, some 20 police officers stormed King James Baptist Church who was having a drive-in service the following night, again threating citations.
Temple Baptist Church has been holding radio broadcast services for the previous weeks.
Lee Gordon, a longtime member of Temple Baptist, said he the church was doing the right thing by having worshippers stay in their cars with the windows rolled up.
“A lot of our membership is elderly and doesn’t have access (to technology needed to stream the service),” Gordon said. “There’s 25 cars 200 yards away all in the same place at the Sonic Drive-In. What we’re doing endangers nobody.”
An order from the city not only bans in person worship services, as the statewide shelter-in-place order does, it also takes on drive-in services.
“The City of Greenville put in place an Executive Order that orders all church buildings closed for in person and drive-in church services, until the State of Mississippi’s Shelter In Place Executive Order No. 1466 is lifted by Gov. Tate Reeves. Churches are strongly encouraged to hold services via Facebook Live, Zoom, Free Conference Call, and any and all other social media, streaming, and telephonic platforms,” a press release from the city of Greenville reads.
Reeves fired back on Twitter.
“If you send police after worshippers trying to social distance, you are going to have Mississippians revolt. I’ve asked all pastors not to hold these services—but we ordered churches safe from these outrageous actions. Don’t trample the Constitution.”
We will see what Sunday brings.