(AbsoluteNews) – When COVID-19 began spreading across the country, some states instituted draconian stay-at-home orders. California was one. On March 19, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) told residents they had to shelter in their homes in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Businesses closed across the state, but that’s not all: churches weren’t allowed to hold services.
Residents of the state who felt their First Amendment rights were being violated sued. Unfortunately, they didn’t win.
In mid-April, three churches in Southern California sued the governor over his order banning religious gatherings. According to Newsom, church services are not essential and therefore residents didn’t have the right to go and worship.
Pastors did not agree. On April 13, three of them filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California and asked the services to be labeled essential. They believed they could keep their congregants safe and have in-person services. The lawsuit accused the governor of violating both the US and California Constitutions.
In late-April, another church sued, as well. Cross Culture Christian Center said the order violated their rights. The lawsuit was filed after Pastor Jonathan Duncan was threatened with arrest for holding services.
Finally, on May 5, Judge John Mendez ruled Newsom’s order didn’t violate the rights of Cross Culture Christian Center with his stay-at-home order. The judge said the governor was within his rights to order in-person services to stop because he has emergency police powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Do your Constitutional rights cease to exist during an emergency? We’ve never read that part of the Constitution. The right to practice our religion is supposed to be inalienable. It’s going to be interesting to see what higher courts have to say about this if the church appeals.
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