As we previously reported, the churches contended in their challenge to Gov. Newsom’s orders that the restrictions unfairly and inequitably restricted religious functions while dealing with secular businesses and organizations more leniently.
“Food packing and processing, laundromats, and warehouses have no capacity limits, liquor and grocery stores have a 50% capacity, and big box centers, shopping malls, laundromats, and destination centers have a 25% capacity,” Liberty Counsel said in their brief to the high court.
On the other hand, the Washington Post adds, 99 percent of Californians live in zones in which no indoor religious services are allowed even while other activities, such as distributing food or providing lodging, are allowed in the very same facilities.
In response, the state argued to the court that churches simply pose a greater risk of virus transmission than other settings.
“Indoor ‘congregate’ activities, in which many people gather together in close proximity for extended periods of time, pose an especially great risk of transmission because of the combination of the number of people, the nature of the activity, and the location,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a brief. “The risk is particularly high when such congregate activities involve singing or chanting, especially when they take place in buildings with limited ventilation.”
Newsom’s defense against the church was likely crippled, however, by his apparent hypocrisy in attending a maskless dinner party at an upscale Napa Valley restaurant after urging Californians even to avoid their own family members for Thanksgiving.
The church included a photo of the now-infamous dinner party in its brief to the court, arguing that “the governor continues to impose draconian and unconscionable prohibitions on the daily life of all Californians that even the governor disregards at his own whim.”
“Ultimate victory, and Freedom, is nigh — we pray!” Mihet declared.
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