First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs was destroyed by what investigators believe is an arsonist. The 14-page complaint, filed in April, accused local police of disrupting a Bible study and Easter service at the church.
The judge declined to block the city's stay-at-home order, as the church had requested, and noted that the city had, in a subsequent executive order, allowed for drive-in church services.
Jerry Waldrop, who has been the church's pastor for more than 30 years, told the WMC that the church has "no enemies that we know of".
Stephen Crampton, senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit law firm representing the church in the lawsuit, said the church's members had been grieving "their inability to gather as a congregation" since the city's order forced the church's closure.
Tate Reeves on Thursday condemned a church fire that's being investigated as an arson.
When firefighters responded to the blaze at the First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs on Wednesday (May 20), they found the words "Bet you stay home now you hypokrites" sprayed painted on the parking lot of the church.
"I am heartbroken and furious".
Crampton told WATN Local 24 in a statement that the church hopes the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice.
According to the lawsuit, the church managed to conduct its services outside, but in the face of inclement weather, services were moved indoors while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
According to WLBT, the city of Holly Springs does not consider churches essential businesses, despite the state's governor declaring they are.
The burning of a church in northern MS this week is being investigated as arson because of a spray-painted message at the scene that seemed to criticize the church's defiance of coronavirus restrictions.
"It is very clear local municipalities can have guidelines that are more strict than the governor's guidelines, but they cannot have guidelines that directly conflict with what we have put in place", Reeves said at a news conference Wednesday.
'Our most honest prayers are with the people of this church and their pastor.
Investigators say numerous parishioners were home or out of town when the fire ripped through the church between 2 and 4 a.m. Wednesday, WMC-TV reported.
"We have a tight group that's been faithful, so whatever means is necessary that's what we'll do", said Waldrop.