Churches in the German city of Lage were unlawfully forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic, a court has ruled.
In a bid to curb new variants, the local government of the city in North Rhine-Westphalia banned all congregations from meeting for public worship back in March 2021.
The measures were considered to be excessive, as there had only been a coronavirus outbreak in one church.
At the time, a legal challenge from the Bible Congregation Lage was rejected, but the administrative court in Minden has now upheld its case, ruling that the blanket ban was disproportional, and violated freedom of religion.
The court in Minden criticised the ban for not providing exceptions in the case of churches which introduced suitable measures for tackling the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking after the ruling, Peter Dridiger, pastor of Bible Congregation Lage, said the decision was an ‘important victory’, which will help churches in the future.
Several courts throughout the world have ruled against various covid restrictions enforced on churches and street evangelists.
As reported by ET in 2021, the Scottish Court of Session ruled that the Scottish government’s ban on public worship during the pandemic was unlawful.
The regulations which required churches to close across mainland Scotland had been challenged by 27 church leaders, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, who said the restrictions were a breach of their freedom of religion.
In his decision, Court of Session judge Lord Braid agreed, ruling that the regulations constituted a ‘disproportionate interference’ with people’s ‘freedom to manifest their religious beliefs’. He also said the rules had gone far further than intended.
In England, a Christian street preacher who was arrested on Easter Sunday 2020 for supporting homeless people during the covid lockdown eventually won his two-year legal battle.
Andrew Sathiyavan, 47, was arrested, detained in a police cell, and issued with a fine for preaching and supporting the homeless during lockdown, but then a Crown Court Judge overturned that decision.
In Canada last year, a Calgary-based street pastor and others who were accused of breaching a covid lockdown order won an appeal against a contempt of court finding.