Three California churches that sued over state and local COVID-19 restrictions are set to receive hefty settlements from the state and their respective counties this week in what is being hailed as yet another win for pandemic-era religious freedom.
Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the State of California each agreed to pay attorneys representing Reverend John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Sun Valley to the tune of $800,000 total, as The Center Square reported.
This settlement comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 emergency declaration discriminated unfairly against churches and barred his government from imposing the emergency orders on houses of worship in a disparate manner from that of other “essential” entities.
San Joaquin County and the state of California also agreed to pay attorneys representing Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi and its pastor Jon Duncan as well as Fresno’s Cornerstone Church and its pastor Jim Franklin a settlement of $500,000.
To arrive at such a vindicating settlement is an indication of just how far these churches have come since they first decided to stand up to the state over the controversial restrictions.
“Early in the pandemic, everyone was so fearful and told us we were going to lose our case. But it’s never acceptable to give up your constitutional rights,” Pastor Duncan said, according to LifeNews.
“Church is essential,” said Pastor Franklin. “We have known from day one that the state was overreaching…This was a long, hard, and sometimes unpopular legal battle.”
“Religious freedom is non-negotiable and we are so grateful for our legal team and that they never wavered in their commitment to us, to our church and to our First Amendment rights,” he added.
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