Dozens of worshippers participated in a church service Sunday in San Diego, one that also served as a protest against California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) coronavirus orders prohibiting indoor worship, including gatherings in people’s homes.
The order bans in-person worship services in much of the state, singing and chanting in some counties on a “monitoring” list, and even home Bible study groups and fellowship.
South Bay Pentecostal Church Pastor Arthur Hodges said, according to Fox5:
We’re not receiving equal rights because other enterprises are allowed to open and operate if they follow protocols. 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 is one of several religious leaders in the state suing Newsom over his shutdown order, arguing it violates their First Amendment rights.
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected, 5-4, Hodges and South Bay Pentecostal’s emergency appeal that challenged Newsom’s order.
In another case, Liberty Counsel, a Christian ministry and nonprofit litigation firm, reported Monday it filed a “reply memorandum of law” in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles that seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Newsom’s orders.
“Yet, Newsom encourages mass gatherings of protestors,” Liberty Counsel noted.
The firm made the filing on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which includes 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.
According to the Christian law firm, Godspeak Calvary Chapel held three worship services Sunday in Ventura, with as many as 2,500 worshippers attending one service, in-person or in the parking area, and 26,000 participating online. The firm reported:
Church members from another congregation drove two hours to stand outside in the parking lot during the services to voluntarily receive citations so others could worship inside. The only citation issued was to an Antifa protestor for disturbing the peace.
During his sermon, Pastor Rob McCoy said, “And the powers that were given this nation were the first three words of the preamble of that Constitution, ‘We the People.’”
“And you have freedom to worship your God,” he added. “It’s between you and Him and you’re accountable to God. And no man is allowed to take that.”
While Liberty Counsel does not represent Godspeak Calvary Chapel, the ministry observed that California Supreme Court Justive Matthew Guasco issued a temporary restraining order to McCoy, the church itself, Does 1-1000, and others working with them who might attend their church services in the future.
“The state court order naming Does 1-1000, along with anyone ‘acting in concert,’ is the first case in the nation to include any person who dares enter the church for religious services,” Liberty Counsel reported.