Enyart, one of the pastors, appeared skeptical of the coronavirus response.
"It's like 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'," he told CBS4 News before the judge issued the order. "If it was a true emergency, people would be inclined to ignore government orders because of government's overreach. There's so much evidence coming out that the lockdown is hurting people."
Enyart, who also hosts a radio show, has sometimes been a controversial figure. He has vocally criticized and even conducted protests of other Christian groups, pro-life groups and politicians he believes to be insufficiently opposed to abortion.
According to the pastors' complaint, compliance with state rules, executive orders and public health rules violates the plaintiffs' "sincerely held religious beliefs." The rules "substantially burden" free exercise of religion.
The rules "restrict or prevent religious speech and the expression of personal communication in how closely plaintiff pastors can be to persons in their congregations, and in how closely congregants can be to each other, to meet, pray, talk, stand, sit, walk, sing, pray, embrace, shake hands, smile or facially express their thoughts, opinions and emotions verbally and through facial expression."
"Moreover, plaintiffs are restricted in holding baptisms, communion services, marriage ceremonies and laying of hands," the complaint continued. It said the two churches conduct religious services and fellowship activities for congregations larger than 50 people. The capacity limits on houses of worship are "more severe" than those that apply to similar settings, it said.
"The state also allows a variety of exceptions to its facial-covering requirement where it recognizes that removing a mask is necessary to carry out a particular activity," said the complaint.
Domenico said the court does not doubt the good faith decisions of state officials' efforts "to balance the benefits of more public interaction against the added risk that inheres in it."
While the Constitution "doesn't kneecap a state's pandemic response," he said, "the existence of a crisis does not mean that the inalienable rights recognized in the Constitution become unenforceable."
Although the religious must comply with neutral, generally applicable restrictions, he said, "the First Amendment does not allow government officials, whether in the executive or judicial branch, to treat religious worship as any less critical or essential than other human endeavors. Nor does it allow the government to determine what is a necessary part of a house of worship's religious exercise."
Most Colorado outbreaks have taken place at workplaces, schools and businesses, not churches, Domenico said, citing state data. The largest outbreaks have been at colleges and prisons. Less than 2% of the 900 active or resolved outbreaks in Colorado have taken place at religious facilities.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Other religious groups' challenges to Colorado limits on public gatherings have not prevailed in court.
In September, U.S. District Judge Christine M. Arguello rejected the Colorado Springs-area Andrew Wommack Ministries' challenge to coronavirus limits, saying public health was at risk. Health officials said a novel coronavirus outbreak at a July Bible conference hosted by the organization led to 63 cases and one death, Colorado Public Radio said.