Newsom barred from imposing coronavirus restrictions on churches

May 18, 2021

Gov. Gavin Newsom

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The state of California has settled a lawsuit with Christian organizations over coronavirus restrictions placed on houses of worship, ending Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ability to close churches or limit their occupancy. [The Center Square]

Last year, Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal organization, filed suit on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry. Following multiple United States Supreme Court rulings against Newsom’s restrictions, Liberty Counsel and the California Attorney General’s Office submitted a final settlement last week to the district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

As a result of the settlement, the state of California is now under a permanent injunction from imposing restrictions on churches and houses of worship that are not equally applied to other critical infrastructure or essential services. Upon reaching the settlement, Newsom became the first governor in the United States to have a permanent injunction levied against him on behalf of houses of worship.

Furthermore, Newsom must pay Liberty Counsel $1.35 million to cover its legal fees.

The settlement references several Supreme Court opinions, including Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom. The Supreme Court ruled multiple times that restrictions imposed on houses of worship that were not imposed on nonreligious entities and activities are unconstitutional.

“Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID restrictions discriminated against churches while providing preferential treatment to many secular businesses and gatherings,” said Liberty Council founder and chairman, Matt Staver. “The Supreme Court intervened multiple times to provide relief. Under the settlement, California may never again place discriminatory restrictions on churches and places of worship. We are grateful for Pastor Che Ahn, Harvest Rock and Harvest International Ministry. Pastor Ahn’s leadership and courage has toppled the tyranny and freed every pastor and church in California.”

From March 19, 2020 to May 25, 2020, Newsom ordered the closure of all churches. From May 26, 2020 to July 12, 2020, Newsom mandated that churches be allowed to operate at no more than 25 percent capacity with no more than 100 people in attendance.

More than 90 percent of Californians were still prohibited from worshiping together indoors until April 8, 2021. The restrictions included a yearlong ban on Californians participating in home bible studies and singing and chanting.

Newsom lifted the attendance limits on May 9, 2021.

California settled with Liberty Counsel and the legal organization filed for three emergency injunctions pending appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals, two oral arguments in front of a panel of three judges and two orders from the United States Supreme Court, including an injunction pending appeal issued on Feb. 5.


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Rambunctious

Sadly many churches seemed to gladly roll over and shut down….I found that very troubling when Priests and ministers didn’t fight the edicts from Newsome….very troubling indeed….land of the free and home of the brave disappeared faster than you can say Amen…..


IDBOUND

The Lord works in mysterious ways


Cmonnow

Reading all this just kinda shows you how ignorant people are of the facts. They rely on their anger and/or bitterness instead of common sense or educating themselves. Pretty scary….


OnlyinSLO

Harvest Rock Decibels – A so-called religious institution based upon rock and bringing in people to sing to rock melodies. They’re a necessary service, really? People can’t pray by themselves? You can’t treat yourself of the symptoms of Covid-19, but you can pray and read the bible all by yourself! What a crock of crap. Rules don’t apply to religious institutions. Now, we as tax-payers are being forced to pay these jerks money. Where’s their Christian belief of not to do upon other’s, treat people as you would treat yourself. So they believe in suing each other, bullshit. This was all about the money and ego – mighty Christian of them. “F” thy neighbor, do onto them before they can do upon you.


info

Though I share your frustration it doesn’t help when Hollywood and other entertainment was considered essential during that time. Nothing like a progressive or violent film to help us get us through the isolation. Playing, outside, cards, watching reruns would have been sufficient but where is the money for Newsome in that?


hotdog

Newsome has not and does not make any money off public health mandates. All his proclamations have been to protect us


ddc1983

Freedom of religion is part of the first amendment. People are free to attend church services, the same way people are free to attend protests.


Gramelin

You Missed the point. The suit was discrimination. Newsom Allowed others to gather, while he banned them. Re-read. You can’t say ya sure to one entity then No to the other. This is not about the $, its about the pricipal. IF it was about the $ you dont think it would have been for a whole lot more, ot just laywer and court fees? You do realize this is a typical repsonse of someone angry at God? Rules should apply to all institutions. Why should any group accept less rights? But, You are discriminating because they are Christians? Wow, so according to your view, BEcause they are a church, they should NOT have the same rights as any other group? You are saying its ok to discriminate?


Buchon

Shame on you. I have no idea what “Harvest Rock Decibels” is, so I cannot speak to that. What I do know is that a great many ancient and venerable faith traditions transcend far beyond “reading the Bible.”


The two largest — the Catholic and Orthodox Churches require an ordained priest to offer their highest forms of worship — their sacrificial liturgies. Members of these institutions cannot realize the fullness of their given faiths by staying home, praying and reading the Bible.


So pick up a book or two and endeavor to actually educate yourself on whatever subject you’re so eager to post about, before actually spewing out misinformation.


As far as not taxing worship spaces, that’s a critical component of allowing different fellowships to freely practice their chosen faith. Were they taxed, people like you would without question weaponize taxation laws to run them out of communities. That’s simply unacceptable. It’s not the American Way.


derasmus

Well said!


Buchon

GOOD!


Newsom was gravely wrong to keep people from celebrating their faith. Pox on him.


Those that feel people of faith can simply worship at home are offensively ignorant to the realities of some faiths.


Also, thank God the state does not have the ability to tax spaces used for religious worship! It’s easy to see how the faith-haters would weaponize taxation laws to drive all places of worship out of their communities. Pox on them too.


Slosum

Separation of church and state anyone?


Buchon

Do you know what that actually means in terms of the US Bill of Rights?


It means the US will not create a national church (e.g. Church of England), nor will it tax people to pay for it, nor will it force people to attend it.


derasmus

Yes, the establishment clause.


The phrase “separation of church and state” does not exist in the US Constitution. The phrase actually comes from a letter penned by Thomas Jefferson to a Minister friend where he refers to a “wall of separation…”


corvidae

“Good.” — Lord


hotdog

If the damn churches paid taxes like the rest of us I might have some sympathy for them. They have had a free ride for centuries.


Michele

What does payment of taxes have to do with covid restrictions? This a pay to play deal?


hotdog

Churches have always gotten special treatment. Why is that?

Covid restrictions are about health and safety. The frantic bible thumpers and right wing nut jobs turned the pandemic into a political issue when it is simply about public health.


TopZone

hotdog,


State welfare is a relatively new thing. It used to be, before the government tried to enslave the poor into their welfare system, the churches were the only institutions feeding and clothing the poor. Obviously things have changed a lot in the last 70 years, but that is the answer to your question “Why is that?”. Presidents like Wilson, FDR, and Reagan made huge changes to the way the state can enslave it’s poor people. I’m not commenting on what is right or wrong, but that’s why churches traditionally don’t get taxed.


derasmus

No, progressive Democrats and their zeal for societal control did that.


hotdog

As for closing or limiting attendance at churches that was all done for public health and those too lame to moderate their own behavior in a crisis.

It would be fine if all the anti markers and other nutcases got sick on their own dime but that is not the case. Irresponsible people have spread covid to multitudes of others and then we all have to pay for the medical care.

Tightly packed people in a room for an hour or two is, this last year, just asking to catch and/or spread the bug.


Those lambasting the Governor for trying to keep us healthy and maintain some sort of society in hard times is commendable. The deal is no matter how hard this last year was it could have been worse if more people got sick.


Gramelin

Another, “I’m angry at God” comment.


coyote

Actually they pay taxes. All the people who go to church pay taxes, just like everyone else. So you think that there should be double tax on people who go to church?


hotdog

That is faulty logic and you know it. The stores where we shop pay taxes, the theaters pay taxes. Every non public entity pays taxes to support our society-all but the churches.


LeroyMoo

Are you sure “…all but churches”? Source: Charity Organizer “Black Lives Matter Foundation is headquartered in Santa Clarita, CA, and is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 47-4143254. Donations are tax-deductible.” They probably collected more money last year than any single church.


derasmus

Yup, and one of their leaders was recently pegged purchasing several pieces of res estate.


Gramelin

Your not making any sense hotdog, Churches are non-profit. The tything supports the pastors living expenses, buildings, feeding and housing needy families, ect. ITs not a for profit buisness that should be taxed.


Buchon

Churches also pay taxes on real estate that’s not directly related to the celebration of their faith. If they have a gift shop, or an office or a parsonage, etc. on their campuses, they DO pay property taxes on a pro-rated basis.


Cmonnow

People support churches w money that’s already been taxed. Pastors, or whomever, pay regular income tax like everyone else. But really you guys are mad about taxes or covid… What are you freaking mad at? When did our society get detailed into being so angry about everything except what we should be mad at…?? C’mon now…..they