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Judge denies Andrew Wommack Ministries lawsuit

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- A United States District Judge shot down the Andrew Wommack Ministries lawsuit against Gov. Jared Polis and the health department.

Judge Christine M. Arguello denied the lawsuit Tuesday. Arguello wrote that allowing the organization to hold large gatherings would present a high risk of harm during this pandemic.

“Further, Plaintiff would be compromising the health of the public, which could cause the death of an untold number of innocent citizens,” Arguello wrote. 

On Wednesday, the organization appealed Arguello’s decision.  

Andrew Wommack Ministries originally filed the suit after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told the organization to cease and desist all large gatherings this summer.

Liberty Counsel filed the lawsuit on behalf of Andrew Wommack Ministries, the organization reported on Monday, and it seeks an "immediate temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing Gov. Polis from illegally and unconstitutionally persecuting religious Coloradans who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to religious freedom."

It all stems from the cease and desist order sent to AWMI over the ministry's Summer Family Bible Conference 2020 event, which took place from June 30 - July 3. The letter said the conference was in violation of Teller County's COVID-19 variance by hosting more people than the 175-person limit allowed at an indoor event.

Despite restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic that limited attendance, CDPHE said their investigation found the event had anywhere between 300 and 500 people at Charis Bible College.

Liberty Counsel responded to that letter and acknowledged there were more people than allowed, but added that they followed state guidelines regarding the "50% capacity" rule. However, the Teller County variance states that an indoor venue can hold up to 175 people or 50% capacity, whichever is smaller.

However, several weeks later, CDPHE traced a COVID-19 outbreak to the event. Seven staff members and 15 attendees from the conference tested positive.

Now, several months after the cease and desist letter was sent, Liberty Counsel is accusing the state of religious discrimination because the organization alleges that Gov. Polis "has exempted 82 nonreligious categories and allows mass gatherings of protestors throughout the state."

The letter references numerous protests in the state over the past few months since the pandemic started. Liberty Counsel doesn't name any specific groups responsible for protests.

Gov. Polis' office hasn't publicly responded to the lawsuit. We've reached out to his office for a comment, and a spokesperson said they don't comment on pending litigation.

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