Harvest Rock Church in California is appealing to the Supreme Court for an emergency measure blocking Governor Gavin Newsom’s order restricting the number of people legally allowed to gather in houses of prayer during the coronavirus epidemic.
California has a tiered system that imposes different levels of restrictions on different counties, but as of Nov. 21, the state’s 41 counties — representing 94 percent of the state’s population — were subject to the strictest regulations that include all indoor religious bans. services. Services in other counties severely limit the number of people allowed. The state issued special guidelines for places of worship earlier this year.
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“For more than nine months, the governor continues to discriminate between religious services in churches, while allowing countless non-religious entities to continue to gather in the same house of prayer and other comparable external church meetings without numerical restrictions,” the church said. referring to the basic businesses and services for which it is authorized to operate.
The church accused Newsom of “gathering mass protesters, rioters, and loot in public encouragement and support without numerical restriction, with obvious disregard for its own orders.[,]”And about the impersonal disregard for the bans, including a picture of Newsom with a large group of restaurants, seemingly against indoor eating restrictions.
“For the governor, the COVID-19 restrictions seem to be non-binding and non-punitive,” the application continues. “But for churches or anyone who prays in their own home with someone who doesn’t live there, the restrictions in COVID-19 are mandatory and subject to criminal sanctions.”
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Fox News contacted Newsom’s office to comment, but did not respond immediately.
The legal argument of the Church is based primarily on the First Amendment. Under the free practice clause of the amendment, the church argues that the Newsom order is illegal because it limits the size of religious gatherings while treating non-religious groups and activities differently.
The church also cites the case law on the founding clause of the First Amendment, according to which the government cannot “force or influence a person to go to church or stay away from it against his will”. The church claims that people who go to the house of prayer are influenced by the imposition of criminal sanctions to stay away.
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The church’s request goes to Judge Elena Kagan, who can decide for herself or refer her to the full court. Similar urgency requests have been made recently regarding restrictions in New York and are currently pending in court. One challenge was the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the other was posed by various Jewish organizations.
Fox News Shannon Bream and Bill Mears contributed to this report.