- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2020

A church in eastern Oregon that defied the governor’s stay-at-home order has become the state’s hot spot for new cases of COVID-19.

Two-thirds of 356 members of Lighthouse Pentecostal Church tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, according to The Associated Press.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 278 new cases statewide on Tuesday — a 51% increase since Monday and largely spurred by the church in Union County, which now leads the state in cases per capita.

As of Tuesday, 236 members of the church had tested positive, according to state authorities.

Members of Lighthouse Pentecostal had met in April and May in large worship services in the parking lot without wearing masks or heeding social distancing protocols ordered by Gov. Kate Brown, according to The Observer newspaper.

Church members were shown in videos posted to social media laying hands on each other during worship.

Last week, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld the governor’s use of emergency powers. Various churches in northeastern Oregon had sued Ms. Brown, a Democrat, arguing that her order violated their religious liberty.

• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at cvondracek@washingtontimes.com.

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