Catholic Priest Files Lawsuit Against New Jersey Governor, Rabbi Joins In — Gets Arrested

Father Kevin Robinson is suing New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy over his “inhuman and unchristian” stay-at-home order that he believes is infringing on his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

An Orthodox rabbi who has joined on to the priest’s lawsuit was arrested for holding a service on Monday evening.

Fr. Robinson of the Catholic St. Anthony of Padua Church in North Caldwell wrote in an email to parishioners announcing the lawsuit that “my civil rights have been violated as a result of Gov. Murphy’s unconstitutional order to shut down religious services in the State.”

The email continued on to explain that “it is our hope that this lawsuit will force the State to treat religious institutions as an ‘essential service,’ with the same allowances that are already made for other essential services. If we prevail, we will once again begin holding Mass at St. Anthony’s, albeit under some limitations.”

The lawsuit says that the church “has been threatened by local law enforcement with arrest and criminal prosecution if he dares to offer a Mass or conduct any other public gathering in his church, which remains closed due to this threat.”

In a recent update to his parishioners, Fr. Robinson asked for prayers that the lawsuit will be successful. He explained that “this outrageous state of affairs will last until the governor backs down or until the court orders him to back down from this inhuman and unchristian state of affairs.”

The lawsuit was joined by Rabbi Yisrael A. Knopfler, who says that police who park outside his synagogue have been “clearly surveilling us to look for violations of Order 107.”

On Monday, Knopfler was arrested for holding a gathering to celebrate Lag B’Omer, a holiday marking the end of a historic plague.

Knopfler was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing the law and violating the executive order. A video of the arrest shows a crowd shouting at the police, calling them “Nazis,” “Gestapo” and “anti-Semites.”

The religious leaders are being represented by the Thomas More Society — a nonprofit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty.

“This is an alarming case of extreme governmental overreach,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara, who is representing the priest and the rabbi, told Life Site News. “Order 107 is beset by vagaries, ambiguous ‘clarifications,’ and double standards. The alleged enforcement of this troublesome order has violated Reverend Robinson’s and Rabbi Knopfler’s constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. These religious leaders were persecuted. Their rights to the free exercise of religion, their freedom of speech, assembly, and expressive association were trampled upon.”

Ferrara explained the absurdity of the fact that people can sit in office buildings, but not churches, with the same amount of people present.

“Under Order 107, people can sit in business offices without numerical limitation, but not in churches or synagogues,” added Ferrara. “The same accountant or lawyer who can sit in an office with a hundred people is subject to criminal prosecution for ‘disorderly conduct’ if he sits in a church or synagogue with more than 9 others. This is absurd. Father Robinson and Rabbi Knopfler are entitled to First Amendment liberty, equal protection, and substantive due process, which they did not receive. This is an intolerable breach of the rights due every American and cannot be allowed to stand.”

Earlier this year, Fr. Robinson led a group of protestors to the State House in Trenton, NJ, to oppose a mandatory vaccine bill over religious objections. The protest was successful and the bill was defeated.


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