The Health Department of Los Angeles County has finally dropped its COVID-19-related restrictions against religious gatherings and has even scrapped previous attendance limits on worship services.
Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty legal aid organization, announced that the county’s public health department issued a Revised Temporary Order, specifying that houses of worship in Los Angeles are now free to resume indoor worship services without any attendance limits. The order still requires social distancing between members of separate households.
The health department’s decision to back off of churches came nearly a full month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against arbitrary restrictions on churches. As we reported back in November, SCOTUS granted an emergency petition on behalf of New York City synagogues and Roman Catholic churches against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” the Court ruled. “The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” and “cannot be viewed as neutral because they single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment.”
The Supreme Court also vacated the orders by lower courts against Harvest Rock Church in California and Harvest International Ministry, leading to more favorable court decisions regarding unconstitutional worship bans.
“We are grateful for the US Supreme Court’s rulings that are resulting in the unconstitutional worship bans falling like dominoes,” Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said in a press release. “The Supreme Court has made it very clear that the courts and the states must begin applying the First Amendment to protect houses of worship. No pastor, church, or parishioner in America should have to choose between worship and prison.”
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