The church services were restricted due to the pandemic. The order was issued by the local governments considering public safety.
Pastor Brian Gibson owns multiple churches in Texas, Kentucky, and Owensboro. Gibson and his allies started calling on churches across the country to peaceably gather with in-person services even if it meant to defy the state-issued order to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection. He alleged that food services like McDonald's and liquor stores were allowed to have drive-thrus. Still, church events were disrupted that easily targeted the religion and violated the First Amendment.
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the Unite States prevents federal and state governments from “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. However, governments can regulate religious actions through general applicability laws that do not specifically target religious activity.
Many local governments in the U.S. responded to the threat posed by COVID-19, passing orders that directed residents to stay at home, ban certain types of in-person gatherings, and shut down nonessential businesses' facilities. As a result, many churches were prohibited from hosting gatherings and other events.
The passing out of easter eggs carried out by the church in May 2020 was against the state authority's orders. The church was subsequently shut down for violation of the state order.
In the Employment Division v. Smith case, the Supreme Court held that the emergency orders prohibiting in-person gatherings are commonly applicable to a variety of different gatherings without targeting any religion or religious practices; the rules could likely be applied to religious gatherings without having to satisfy strict scrutiny under the First Amendment.