California Ends Ban on In-Person Religious Services as One Church Takes Ban to US Supreme Court

California Ends Ban on In-Person Religious Services as One Church Takes Ban to US Supreme Court By Paul Strand via Faith Wire

California’s governor is finally willing to let houses of worship begin actual in-person worship again.

On Memorial Day, Governor Gavin Newsom announced guidelines for such worship services two days after one Chula Vista church asked the U.S. Supreme Court to end Newsom’s ban on those in-person church, synagogue and mosque gatherings.

The South Bay Pentecostal Church’s attorneys had asked the high court to issue an emergency injunction against the ban.

The new guidelines Newsom just issued might still face some opposition from religious leaders.  For one thing, these guidelines state places of worship must “limit attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.”

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And Newsom isn’t forcing these guidelines on California’s counties.  The guidelines suggest houses of worship first need the approval of their county’s public health department before they can hold in-person services.

‘A Blatant Violation’

Before Newsom issued the new guidelines, one of the Chula Vista church’s attorneys, Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society, pointed out California’s two-month-long ban on in-person services, “Is a blatant violation of the Free Exercise Clause of our First Amendment.”

Brejcha stated he’d still like to see the high court get involved, saying, “We still need the United States Supreme Court to weigh in on this critical matter to ensure that state or local officials refrain now and forever from governing by decree to curtail constitutional rights.”

Friday evening, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the California church ban in a two-to-one decision. The 9th Circuit is often considered the most liberal of the circuit courts of appeals and is also the most overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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