A Kentucky pastor said in a report that he does not regret his church's decision to stay open amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the state to avoid its spread.
Maryville Baptist Church Founder and Pastor Dr. Jack Roberts revealed to Wave 3 News in an interview that he had no regrets for continuing with their church services since the pandemic began last year despite the criticisms they received throughout the state for defying orders to stop doing so. Maryville Baptist Church, founded in 1968, is located in Louisville, Kentucky.
"It's been a good year. I don't have any regrets for what we did. We weren't protesting the governor. We we're just doing what we felt like God wanted us to do," Roberts told Wave 3 News.
Roberts clarified during the interview that they did not mean to cause controversy during the past year, which did not actually stop his congregation into coming to the church for worship services.
He revealed that attendance only dropped after the Kentucky State Police paid them a visit last spring to inform those in attendance needed to be quarantined and also cited their license plates. But he said people came back afterwards and they have been following social distancing since then.
According to Wave 3, they observed that the church had a full packed Easter service and that every pew had hand sanitizers available for anyone's use.
"Some folks today will come and wear their masks. Of course, anyone who wants to can," Roberts added. "We do not require it. It is left up to the individual."
Roberts also told the media outlet that only one member in his congregation died due to COVID-19. As such, he will not be getting the vaccine like most of the members of his congregation who believe that it is something they are free to do so.
In April last year, Wave 3 News reported that Roberts was fighting to keep Maryville Baptist Church open out of the belief that the state's restrictions are illegal.
"I have a copy both of the US Constitution and the constitution of the state of Kentucky. They both say what [Governor Andy Beshear] is doing is illegal," Roberts said in an earlier interview with Wave 3 News.
Wave 3 News said that church actually filed a restraining order against Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear so that police would not come each time worship services are ongoing but the local judge denied the petition. The judge reasoned that the governor's orders against mass gatherings such as church services was not discriminatory.
Wave 3 News cited church attendees saying it is their "ultimate choice" to attend the church services because they have the "freedom to do what" they "prefer." While Roberts was quoted in saying that he never asked people "to come in" or to "come on over to church", people just came in freely.
Roberts also pointed out that they do follow the state rules for mass gatherings and felt that "a personal vendetta against him from Governor Beshear" along with "politics are playing a part in what should be a constitutional right."
"It's all in the first amendment to the constitution. You don't stand out there without that protection. If you got that protection, we should have. You can't divide that first amendment up," he said.