Updated: August 30, 2020 10:32 PM
Created: August 30, 2020 08:45 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Houses of worship were finally able to welcome a larger crowd Sunday after the governor bumped up capacity limit to 40%. While there are still concerns about how safe indoor activities are, some parishioners still feel like churches shouldn’t be restricted at all.
“How long is it going be before we rise up and say 'OK, that's it,’” said Pastor Steve Smotherman during his opening remarks at Legacy Church’s Sunday service.
Officials with Legacy Church have been outspoken opponents of the governor’s ban on mass gatherings since it went into effect at the beginning of the pandemic. Smotherman said the governor’s mandate is an overreach of power.
“When we're here today, we're in violation of her mandate because in a moment we're going to sing, and I don't know if you know this but the mandate was do not sing in church. I'm serious, it was on her mandate—no singing. And I'm like, you're not going to tell me how to worship my God,” he said.
Early on in the pandemic, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that she understood the social and spiritual burdens that her restrictions on places of worship have on New Mexico residents, but it’s all part of the effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
"We don't believe the governor has any right to make a decision or restrict our First Amendment rights as Christians for those that want to gather together," said Daniel McCabe, executive pastor at Legacy Church.
In other churches like San Felipe De Neri on Old Town Plaza, many pews remained empty as churchgoers still chose to worship from home. Legacy Church, however, is embroiled in a legal battle with the state to get the governor’s ban thrown out.
“We're still pushing forward,” McCabe added. “We've actually filed our appeal with the 10th District Court just to continue what we believe that we have a right to assemble and the governor cannot restrict that, so we're still moving forward with that lawsuit.”
Copyright 2020 - KOB-TV LLC, A Hubbard Broadcasting Company