GOP candidate withdraws motion challenging Inslee order

Editor's note: The above video is from April 22 when Joshua Freed appeared on 'The Divide with Brandi Kruse' on Q13 FOX.

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Republican candidate for governor has withdrawn his request for a court order allowing him to conduct one-on-one prayer sessions in his backyard after state attorneys assured him the conduct wasn’t prohibited by Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order.

Candidate Joshua Freed sued Inslee in U.S. District Court, calling Inslee’s stay-home order against COVID-19 unconstitutional because it bars gatherings of any size, including spiritual gatherings, while allowing certain other activities, such as marijuana sales, to proceed.

However, Inslee’s proclamation includes an exemption for religious counseling, and during a court hearing Friday attorneys with the Attorney General’s Office said Freed’s stated goal of hosting one-on-one, socially distanced, backyard prayer sessions seemed to fall under that exemption.

After the attorney general’s office assured Freed during the hearing that there was no chance he would face enforcement, Freed’s attorneys agreed to drop their request for the court order.

“The idea of a blanket ban on religious gatherings of any size is not enforceable, and the governor has conceded as much,” Freed lawyer Mark Lamb said after the hearing.

Freed’s underlying lawsuit challenging the stay-home order’s bar on spiritual gatherings continues, however. Lamb said that while everyone needs to participate in the fight against COVID-19, people should be able to gather for socially distanced religious services.

The governor has recently allowed drive-in religious services as part of his plan to reopen the state’s economy in several stages. His office said it was pleased Freed had dropped the motion.

“As we have held all along, Mr. Freed’s desire to hold a one-on-one Bible study session while practicing social distancing was always permissible under the governor’s order,” the governor’s office said in an emailed statement.