Legal Victories Against Unconstitutional Covid Crackdown Orders – With Mat Staver: Are churches being targeted unconstitutionally in some states? What can be done about the government overreach and double standards? Tune in to hear Mat Staver from Liberty Counsel share how they are having victories in court cases.

Air Date: 05/13/2020

Guest: Mat Staver

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith and the Culture


Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live and we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith and the culture, always from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. You can learn more about us at, that’s the best place to make a contribution, which is a big part of what makes this program possible. So, thank you to all you listeners across the country that have continued to give during this COVID crackdown crisis.

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You can do that at today and that’s where you’ll learn about the three of us as well. David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach.

Okay guys, a little later in the program, Mat Staver would be with us from Liberty Counsel, already winning very important suits to protect constitutional rights during these COVID crackdowns, but one of the areas, of course, is freedom of religion and being able to gather together.

And as you guys know, from the very beginning, in fact, our friend Tim Brooks up in Hot Springs was one of the first ones to do this in protecting the congregation back when everybody thought this was going to be way worse than it turned out to be in protecting the congregation. But still gathering, Tim and other churches started having drive-in services that actually had people in their car, so there’s no chance of getting the virus. The Kentucky Governor said even that was not going to be allowed.

Targeting Churches


Yeah, it’s a real problem, because constitutionally, you can’t treat a church differently than you treat another business. So, if you’re telling a church, they can’t do something that Walmart can do in this COVID, then you get problems. And that’s really what we’ve seen is they’ve targeted churches for different behaviors than what they allow other businesses to do. And not that church is business, I’m not saying that.

But from the constitutional standpoint, you have any quality of treatment that there are certain sets of rights and you have to protect those rights and guard those rights.


Well, and the notion that churches are not essential, but liquor stores are. Right? That Walmart is. And to reference, dad, the double standard, you’re referring to, this is where there are so much frustration. And we’re going to see as things are now beginning to open back up, there will be some change in this. But you’re going to see for some of these governors who are talking about extending lock downs for months, if not years, you’re talking about getting close to having some riots on your hands and frustrated people.


And by the way, Tim said years and you’re thinking, yeah, who? We just heard today of a governor who said 18 months. You know, that’s the longest I’ve heard… it’s crazy.


Yeah, for specific facility, specific operations. But again, when you’re designating and saying that certain things are permissible for one group and not for another group, then you do have to raise some serious questions. Because there are concerns that now we’re just playing favorites and we’re determining who and what we do and don’t like.

Drive-in Services

And the crazy thing about the drive-in services is, according to CDC guidelines, you’re supposed to social distance from other people by at least six feet. Well, these cars in the parking lot were divided more than six feet apart, not to mention, people were in their own cars and so there was no danger. This was CDC approved according to their guidelines.

So, following the CDC standards, which we could even question that how well the CDC is or isn’t doing things. We know there’s many people in the Trump administration who recently have said they don’t trust anything from the CDC. And there is probably some good reason for some of those statements. So not that we’re upholding the CDC as the end all when it comes to standards, but when even the CDC is approving that you have met the standards that need to be met and as a governor, they’re still going to say, yeah, we’re still not going to happen for a church, that’s when you know that religion is specifically being targeted by someone who is not in favor of the First Amendment when it comes to the freedom of religion.


And with those kinds of violations, we’ve seen so many other rights come under attack. There are a number of lawsuits that are going right now in that direction. And there’s attacks on government overreaches. There’s attacks on what’s happening economically. There’s attacks on the freedom of petition and assembly. There’s attacks on even the government invading homes to make sure you’re doing the right COVID stuff in your home. I mean, there are so many levels of attacks.

And it’s interesting that in previous epidemics and we’ve talked in previous programs, America has had a pandemic of some kind, on average, probably every 12 to 15 years, some type of medical pandemic. And so, this is not a new thing. But what is new is the overreach and the absolute heart fisted closure and attacking of churches and other things closing businesses down. Looking back to the Spanish flu epidemic, which is the one the media likes to look at the most. Alright, let’s use that one.

Freedom of Assembly

Because back then they asked the churches, hey, would you guys kind of not do assemblies? We’re trying to keep everybody social distancing. And so, in 1918 churches said, sure. And that went for a few weeks. Churches were good neighbors, they tried to follow along. And then as things started flattening out and the curve really changed and it wasn’t what all was predicted. They said, hey, look, guys, we’re not going to keep doing this, keeping church shut just because you guys want to shut. And so the church has really stood up and started stepping back in and we’ve seen that movement going now.

We saw on May the 2nd that there was a movement for churches. They’re going back, regardless what the governor says. And then we saw another movement that’s going on right about now. And then we see another one that’s planned for the end of the month. So, there’s all these movements that are going where they’re saying, we’re not going to shut down just because you guys don’t like us or think we’re not essential.

And along with that, we have good legal partners, friends like Mat Staver with Liberty Counsel, who has been so aggressive and standing up for the rights of all Americans, but also churches. I mean, he does all sorts of constitutional litigation, but he’s really active right now in standing for churches and he’s got lawsuits filed all over the country. And so, we thought it’d be good to get an update from Mat on where are we with cases now, what’s happening with the governors and with mayors and with overreaching and just kind of the feel of what’s going on? So, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, really good advocate for the Constitution.


Yeah, they’re out there, winning victories already. I’m excited about the way… and they’ve done that for years, protected religious liberty. But man, so important right now when it’s under attack, just like you’re saying, David. So, he’s going to be with us when we come back from the break, Mat Staver from Liberty Counsel. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

History and Homeschooling

Hey, friends, it is not too late to join us for the crash course in history and government for all those folks that are schooling from home. Now, that could mean a lot of things. Schooling from home could mean that you’ve been homeschooling your kids from the beginning or it could mean you’ve been thrust into homeschooling as a result of the COVID crackdowns or it could mean you don’t even have kids at home, but you’re still schooling because we all are still learning every day, right? So really, this program is available for anyone and it’s not too late to join us. Even though we started on May 4, we’re doing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon throughout May and you can join at any time and when you join, you will be able to get the recordings of any of the afternoons that you missed.

Remember, this is a live opportunity to learn about history and government to bring those things to life. And we’re going to have special guests every afternoon, people that have been in our “Chasing American Legends” program, people from, I mean, Dr. Alveda King, David Barton, Tim Barton, Brad Stein, all kinds of great folks are going to be joining us, you need to be there as well. Go to to sign up today., it’s not too late and you’ll get recordings of any live afternoons that you missed. Get the crash course in history and government at


We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. We got Mat Staver from Liberty Counsel, the website is You need these guys on your side, man, just winning cases. Well, Mat, you guys have been before the Supreme Court. You’ve always been on the front lines. This has to be one of the busiest times in your history as you’re seeing constitutional rights being violated all over the country.

Maine and Kentucky


It’s exceptionally busy. We’re working in nearly 40 or more states right now with pastors and churches all over the country. And some states are relaxing their restrictions, I like to say, for example, Florida and Texas. But other states are just continuing to clamp down. For example, we just filed in Maine and Maine doesn’t allow any services; inside, zero people and no parking lot services. It’s just completely online in Maine. And there’s a lot of other unbelievable restrictions that we’re encountering. So that’s why we filed suit in Maine. We filed suit in Virginia. We’re getting ready to file suit in Illinois. We have a suit pending in Kentucky and we have many other cases all over the country right now.


And already experiencing some victories. The Kentucky case was just outrageous. Give us a little bit of the facts on this. This church had gathered in their cars, right? This is not even inside the church. They’re having one of those drive-in services.


That’s right. Yeah, they were in the cars on Easter Sunday and the State Troopers at the direction of Governor Andy Beshear were sent and he directed them to not only take down license plate numbers, but also give notices of quarantine, so they get notice of the quarantine. These people who didn’t get out of their car. And then a few days later after Easter, the governor…

State Troopers at Easter Service


And that was during the service…


That was during the service.


I mean, they were walking around, putting these things on?


They weren’t walking around. No. They were in the cars and they were going from car to car. And then obviously, when some cars drove in and they saw what was happening, they drove off. They didn’t want to get notices. So as a result of that, they got a letter from the governor on Thursday of that week after Easter and he said you have to go into quarantine for 14 days.

You have to take your temperature at a specific time every day, report that every day to the County Board of Health. You couldn’t travel out of the County because of the media that coverage on this, some people actually lost their jobs when they were asked by their employer, do you attend that church? They lost their jobs without even any information.

So, we filed the lawsuit and the lower court did not grant the injunction as we had requested. And we then went to the Court of Appeals and on Saturday afternoon, we got a three to zero decision from the Federal Court of Appeals in our favor.


Wow. So, this was, I mean, not only infringing on their religious liberty on Sunday, this was then infringing on their liberty every day of the week, commanding them to do these things and then people losing their jobs because of…

Church Attenders Fired


Yeah. People losing their jobs. Yeah, they lose their jobs because it came out of the media that these people had noticed with a quarantine. Well, these individuals never got another car and they didn’t have any symptoms at all. Actually, all the same people could have gone down to the local big box stores, the Walmart, Kmart, home depots, you name it. They could have all jammed the parking lot and they could have turned on the radio and listened to say, a Christian pastor online if that’s the case and no problem at all. They could have gone to the liquor stores, no problem. But because they were parked in the church parking lot, the governor said, no one is going to church on Easter. And that’s how he enforced it.


How did they not, I mean, you have to conjure up images of a yellow badge for Jews in German. I mean, you’re literally labeling these people and saying, you’re a danger to society, because you pulled into this parking lot. This Court of Appeals actually quoted scripture in their decision. That, we get, right?


They did. They quoted the scripture from the Gospel of Mathew about, where two or more are gathered. And it was a great decision, we’ve lots of good language in it. And they clearly understood the issue. They recognize the unequal treatment and they chastise the governor. It’s a very solid decision. It says that they will not allow the constitution to sleep during a pandemic. I mean, it’s just filled with great quotes.

A Huge Chilling Effect


Mat, what do you say to two pastors out there and congregants? Because there’s a huge chilling effect happening right now. And who knows, I mean, even when the states open, how long it’ll be before some people are willing to once again gather together. So, what do you say to pastors when they’re calling you right now and saying, what do I do, can I meet, what should I do?


Well, certainly we have to look at each individual case, because it differs from State to State and even from Local jurisdiction to Local jurisdiction. So, we first look at that, we look at their whole facts and circumstances. You know, personally, and we’ve said this very clearly. I don’t believe any of these restrictions are constitutional. The government doesn’t have the authority to direct the form and manner of worship, that you have to only do your manner and form of worship online as an example or maybe possibly parking lot services.

They don’t have the ability to say that you’re only limited to 10 people, when at the same time, they allow all these secular places of gathering. So, I don’t think any of the orders that I’ve seen and I’ve seen many churches are constitutional. However, you know, that’s a decision that each pastor has to decide. What are they going to do? And how are they going to operate under that?

Enough is Enough

And we’ve represented the pastors all over the country when you know, they just say enough is enough. And, you know, we’ve been cooperative. We’re going to take measures to protect health and safety, but look, enough is enough. And it’s time for us to begin meeting again.


One of the key legal elements here constitutionally, I guess, is that these orders are not across the board. It’s not what we would call content neutral. It’s not narrowly tailored. Like you said earlier, they’re saying these businesses can be open and have people social distancing, you know, or whatever. But churches no Mater what, no Mater what precautions you take, you cannot meet. I mean, that’s where they’ve gone, way, way too far.


Yeah. Just take example of the Kentucky case. Or I’ll give you a case in Virginia, where the Department of Justice filed in our favor on Sunday. And in the case in Kentucky, for example, the same people could actually go park in a place of gatherings such as a big buck center or liquor store and they could listen to any radio or Christian radio and they would have no problem. But because they did that in a church parking lot, they got ticketed and targeted. So that’s unconstitutional. It’s unequal treatment. Or you know, even the size limitation is the same situation.

And what the court actually said in Kentucky is that the pastor doesn’t want to be exempted. He wants to actually incorporate into the worship these various social distancing and other kinds of health precautions, but you don’t even give an opportunity to even consider that.

What Happened in Virginia?

The same kind of situations over in Virginia. In Virginia, we have a church, the Lighthouse Fellowship Church, it does not have internet, so it cannot go online. Many of its people that it serves are former drug addicts or prostitutes. They have no internet or smart devices. And for some of them, the church is their only family, they depend upon the church for taking them to medical treatment and other kinds of things. So, on Palm Sunday, they had 16 people in a 293 seat sanctuary, 6 people over the governor’s magic number of 10. That same number is not imposed on the secular places of gathering.


That’s right.


As a result though, the pastor got targeted with a criminal charge up to a year in prison and $2,500 fine. And that caught the attention of the Department of Justice. And that’s why they actually worked over the weekend. And on Sunday afternoon, they filed in our case, asking for the court to issue an injunction and saying that what we see here is unequal treatment, which is a violation of the First Amendment.


No doubt. Now, is that church, is there an injunction that’s been granted yet or that’s you guys…


No, it’s not. What happened is the lower court judge denied it, didn’t even wait for the Virginia Governor to respond, just denied it, made things up about how unbelievable, listen to this, how valuable and important liquor stores are and why they are open and churches are not. I’m serious. I’m not kidding you.

Department of Justice


Oh, man. Oh, wow!


So serious. So, that caught the attention of the Department of Justice. We’re having a breach now filed from the governor, finally, this week and then we’ll see what the lower courts going to do, but at the lower court goes the wrong way, we’re back up to Court of Appeals and do what we just did in Kentucky.


And this is George Washington’s Virginia? Unbelievable!


Yeah, of all places. And you know, they take this one size fits all template and put it on every church in the State. You know churches are different sizes, different denominations, different forms of worship, different capabilities, different communities. It just doesn’t work and frankly, it’s unconstitutional.


Mat, so thankful for you guys. So, and one of the most important things we’re telling people right now, you know, they’re frustrated, they want to do something and we’re telling right keep a level head. This is not a time, certainly not a time for violence or any of those things. Civil disobedience has to be done peacefully and get good counsel, get good advice about, as you said it exactly right, every situation is a little different. And so, we so appreciate what you all are doing to provide that service right now all across the country and want to send people your website today and all these cases, we can keep up with the press releases on your website as well, right?



Yeah, They’re all right there at


Mat Staver, your hero, man. Appreciate you, brother. Keep up the great work. I know you guys are working around the clock right now. We’re just praying for you and appreciate what you’re doing.


Thank you. God bless.


Stay with us, folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.


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We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Thanks to Mat Staver for joining us. is the website to learn more about their battles in the courts right now, to protect your religious liberty. And David, Tim, of course, you know Kentucky has been a major battleground on this. Our friend Kelly Shackleford had some victories there as well. But this governor, just way off the charts, wanting to control everything and very, very much against the church has been able to meet. And Mat, actually, I mean, so he won this case on being able to do the drive-in and not have, you know, people tracked on that. But then also won on a case that deals with in-person services as well.


Yeah, he’s winning cases. And by the way, I want to point out that what’s happening with what Mat talked about this entire scenario that’s going on with all this stuff in courts, this is where you know that elections Mater. The 191 Judges that Trump has put on the court, when you get Court of Appeals Judges saying, and I love this quote, this is a quotable we can use for a long time. “We will not allow the Constitution to sleep during a pandemic.” Hooray! Hooray! You’re actually upholding constitutional rights, despite what elected officials are saying, because it is your job to uphold the Constitution.

An Oath to Uphold the Constitution

One of the things I’ve lamented as I’ve watched this happening across the country with Dallas and elsewhere, is I’ve been really disappointed with how willing the police have been to walk in and arrest people in peaceable assemblies, to arrest people attending church with social distancing going on, to arrest people in their homes because they’re not doing the right stuff in the home. I’ve been so disappointed with the police for that, because they take an oath to uphold the Constitution. They don’t take an oath to uphold the county Judge’s ruling. They don’t take an oath to uphold the mayor’s decision. They don’t take an oath to uphold the governor’s decision. They take an oath to uphold the Constitution.

And it is so clear that you know, we had the guys on from Charlotte and you had to have under 10 and you had to be six feet apart and there were eight of them outside in abortion clinic and they had lines on the sidewalk, so they were 10 feet apart. They’re over, above and beyond what’s required and they still get arrested. Come on, guys. As policemen, you got to do better than that. Now, the Sheriffs had done a really good job, but I’ve been really disappointed with that. But nonetheless, you have Judges and then you have Kentucky. And these cases in Kentucky, you have what has been…


And let me jump in really quick too. That’s not to say that there aren’t [crosstalk 20:29] police officer out there. But you are seeing more and more where it seems like police officers are now just following the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law and the letter of law being defined by whatever the latest order from the mayor or governor is, instead of recognizing, wait a second, we are not a nation that is ruled by people per se, we are ruled by law have a constitution that’s not subject to the whim of the mayor or the governor.

A Power Trip

And it really does seem in a couple of these situations like the officers were just there saying, hey, we told you to do this. Do what we say or we’re going to rescue you. Almost as if they’re on a power trip or at least representing people that are on power trips, instead of respecting and upholding the Constitution. Now, you mentioned, we do see more Sheriff’s offices who have said, no, we’re not doing that.

There’s been some bad examples of police that have done that. And we know police officers who listened to our show… Oh my gosh! We love you guys. We’re praying for you. We support you. But we certainly, I mean, just like any field, you can certainly find some bad apples in any field. And there’s been some pretty bad examples of police going far beyond what you would ever think would happen in America and arguably, because they don’t understand the Constitution and certainly, they’re not upholding it.


And unfortunately, they’re being put in this position by these mayors and governors. And, you know, some of them like you said, are refusing to participate, but man, what a tough spot to be put in.


It is a tough spot. And so, but going to elections, it Maters that the presidential election and at this point, I don’t know of a single case we have lost of all the numbers of cases that have happened in the last month and a half, I don’t know of a single one that we’ve lost from a constitutional standpoint. Everyone that I know has upheld constitutional provisions. And so that says a lot about what elections mean for Judges. And so, this is a time when you really want Judges getting a ride on the constitution they have.

How Did Kentucky End Up With Him?

But the other thing I’d point to is Kentucky. Because Kentucky has been a fairly reliable, red state conservative state, if you will. They get mad at their last governor, Republican Governor, Bevin and they decided that they elected Democrat instead. And oh my gosh, look at all the things that have happened. I don’t think most Kentuckians are really happy with the fact that you’re going out and arresting guys who attended church. You know, you’ve got 16 people there and it’s criminal charges against the pastor and the parishioners. Are you kidding, criminal charges?


In fact, to the end of Kentucky, people being frustrated. There’s a pastor right now who’s calling for opening charges early because Kentucky said no, you can’t do it until a certain date. He says look, that’s ridiculous. You’re letting everybody else meet. We’re going to go back and meet, we’re willing to face the consequences. He joined up with First Liberty, Kelly Shackleford.

And we’ve mentioned before, there’s so many great legal organizations out there that are willing to help and represent people, give them guides, give them counsel, help defend their liberties, their First Amendment rights. And even though it’s great to see people standing up, which we’re actually very excited to see what happens with this pastor in Kentucky or how this is going to play out, it’s exciting to see people stand up. It’s just silly that we’re in a situation where we are now having to fight leaders that were duly elected in America, to be able to enjoy God given constitutionally protected rights, that are now just being thrown by the wayside, almost flippantly because, we’ve heard this quote a lot recently, people are more willing to give up their freedoms to fill temporarily safe, which never works out well in the long run.

The Law is Good If…


And looking at the rest that we’ve seen in recent weeks. Whether it be the hairdresser in Dallas. Whether it be pastors and other people, Rodney Howard Brown down in Florida, the pastor there. I mean, just so many arrests of people who shouldn’t have been. I think a good way to kind of close this out is by going back to what the Bible says is the purpose of law. First Timothy, chapter 1, verses 8-10. Let me read it. It says, “We know the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not the righteous, but for law breakers and rebels; for the ungodly and the sinful, the unholy and the irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”

Now, that’s what the law is made for. And how we look at so many of these arrests and say, that’s not murder, that’s not perjurers, that’s not killing your parents. Why are we arresting these people? Just remember what the purpose of law is: go back to that as the basis of those who elect the office. See if they’ll uphold the law the way it’s supposed to be done rather than by their own opinion.

Legal Victories Against Unconstitutional Covid Crackdown Orders – With Mat Staver


So important for us to know. First, that’s the best way for us to hold them accountable and then to do exactly as you’re saying and hold them accountable. You know, now is a very important time to know your rights. We keep talking about defending and asserting those constitutional rights. You can’t do that if you don’t know those rights. And so, we’re on a mission to get people educated about those rights.

Right now, during this situation if you go to right now, you may be dealing with a violation of your constitutional rights and need some legal advice on that. We’re going to team you up with Mat Staver that was on today from Liberty Counsel or Kelly Shackleford from First Liberty or the guys over at Alliance Defending Freedom, Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice. We’ve got a terrific new program launching that’s an opportunity for people everywhere to know their rights. Whether we’re teaming you up with that legal counsel or getting you into our educational programs with the constitution classes or actually getting you to volunteer to help others know their rights by becoming a volunteer with us and actually hosting a Constitution class. There’s something for every citizen to do. Go to today so that you can know your rights. It is absolutely essential.

The crackdowns across this country have gone way too far and were preventing people from living out as David and Tim pointed out so well the beginning of the program, those Bill of Rights, those basic freedoms. Freedom of religion has been violated. Freedom of speech has been violated. Freedom to assemble has been violated. Their right to petition our government has been violated. So many due process rights in the Bill of Rights have been violated. So, it is an essential time to know your rights.

Go to today and you can get started on your constitutional journey. We sure appreciate you listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders live.