Over the weekend, a group of California pastors and believers rallied in protest of Governor Gavin Newsom’s restrictions against indoor worship services amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to Fox 5 San Diego, the rally took place outside of the San Diego County Administration Building and followed a format similar to a church service with singing and speeches.
“We’re not receiving equal rights because other enterprises are allowed to open and operate if they follow protocols,” said South Bay Pentecostal Church Pastor Arthur Hodges, one of several pastors taking Gov. Newsom to court over his church restrictions. “You can’t say people are safe when they go work and follow the rules and the same people are not safe to go to church.”
Hodges and South Bay Pentecostal called on the U.S. Supreme Court back in May to grant an emergency appeal challenging the restrictions on churches. In a 5-4 decision, however, the high court rejected the church’s appeal. The church filed a new complaint in July, arguing that the state’s shutdown orders are too restrictive for a “generally non-lethal disease” and that outdoor and online services are “inadequate substitutes.”
As we reported at the time, Gov. Newsom reinstated church restrictions after cases and hospitalizations began to rise again across the state.
On Monday, Liberty Counsel, a religoius liberty legal aid firm, filed a “reply memorandum of law” in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Newsom’s orders.
The request was filed on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has 162 churches in California and 65,000 affiliate churches and ministries throughout the world.
Liberty Counsel reported:
In Governor Newsom’s response to the motion for the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, he argues that churches are not “essential.” Regarding feeding, counseling and housing people in the same building where worship services occur, Newsom argues that only the worship services should be prohibited while the other non-religious services should be allowed.
Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said in a statement:
Governor Gavin Newsom encourages tens of thousands of people to gather for mass protests, but he bans all in-person worship and home Bible studies and fellowship. The governor cannot disregard the First Amendment, nor can the state micromanage the form of worship by banning singing or chanting. This discriminatory treatment is unconstitutional.
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