The Colorado and Teller County Public Health Departments of Teller County filed a lawsuit against Andrew Wommack Ministries seeking a preliminary injunction. Their star witness for Teller County was unable to establish any relevant facts to support their case.
Liberty Counsel represents AWMI regarding the state lawsuit filed by the Public Health Departments of Teller County and the state of Colorado. The suit was both futile and is littered with misrepresentations.
Based on these misrepresentations, the state court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), stating that last week’s Minister’s Conference should comply with Public Health Order 20-35. First, there was no evidence that AWMI was not complying with PHO 20-35. Second, the order was not served until after the conference ended. The bogus effort was both pointless and futile. Third, government entities cannot obtain a TRO against a private entity’s First Amendment rights without proper notice of the hearing. The Public Health Departments intentionally misled the court by not providing notice to AWMI of the TRO.
Liberty Counsel filed two affidavits prior to the hearing in the Teller County et al v. AWMI case in the Teller County district court. The court held a three-hour hearing yesterday on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction against AWMI, seeking to restrain them from hosting religious gatherings in excess of 175 people and to force them to require all people to wear masks. On October 23, Gov. Jared Polis revised the COVID restrictions. Entities under the prior 175-person limit now may have 175 people per room, not counting staff with no limit on the number of staff.
The plaintiffs presented testimonies from County Administrator for Teller County Sheryl Decker and State Epidemiologist for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment Rachel Herlihy. During cross-examination, Decker admitted that neither Colorado nor Teller County has any way of knowing whether a person who allegedly contracts COVID-19 did so at any given place. Decker admitted that this is the official position of the State of Colorado, and that there is no mechanism to prove AWMI was the source, cause or location where anyone contracted COVID-19. However, Teller County continues to blame AWMI for so-called outbreaks despite admitting they have no proof to support the assertion.
Decker alleged that AWMI did not comply with their directives about the Summer Family Conference, but on cross-examination she admitted that the email to AWMI from her superior referred the county’s plan was merely “suggestions” and nothing more.
During cross-examination, the state’s expert, Dr. Herlihy, admitted that the studies she has been relying upon for imposing the mask and gathering restrictions on religious worship services are unsupported by the actual science to date. The first study she referenced was one that dealt with a SARS virus from 2000 and has little, if any relevance to the current COVID-19 virus. In fact, the first study could not draw any conclusions concerning the benefit of certain restrictions. A second study made note there is no evidence that religious worship services, churches, school, work, etc., pose any greater risk of transmission of COVID-19 than other activities that are permitted. Herlihy also admitted that the studies she relies upon can only make predictions that certain activities “may” contribute to the spread or that it is “plausible” that they do so. She also admitted that there is no concrete evidence concerning COVID-19 and that the studies all demonstrate that more information, study, and evidence is needed to draw any conclusions concerning numerical caps or masks at religious gatherings.
AWMI presented a lengthy affidavit from Andrew Wertz, a Senior VP of AWMI, that goes into great detail of the many health precautions that have and will be implemented for any future events. Every vehicle coming on to the property stops at a security gate and the occupants are asked health questions and temperatures are checked. Before anyone enters the facility, they are again asked health questions and temperatures are checked. Each guest then proceeds to a table with social distancing where they are again asked questions and informed of the requirement to social distance and wear masks, which are also provided to guests. Signs are posted and sanitizing stations are throughout the facility. People are told to social distance when they enter the building, when they stop at the tables, when they enter the auditorium where they are escorted by an usher to ensure compliance, and an announcement is made. Every other row is blocked with tape.
After the three-hour hearing concluded, the judge has asked the parties to return today at 9:00 a.m. MT/11:00 a.m. EST to continue the hearing when the court will hear legal arguments concerning the plaintiffs request for injunctive relief and the First Amendment issues.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Andrew Wommack Ministries takes extraordinary precautions to keep its conference attendees safe. We will continue to defend against Teller County and the state of Colorado’s futile and unlawful attempt to misrepresent facts in their quest to violate the First Amendment.”