The evangelical congregations insist Governor Newsom is infringing on their religious liberty by forcing them to stop singing and chanting during indoor services, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Sacramento.
“To prohibit group singing and chanting is to effectively prohibit corporate Christian worship,” the complaint states.
California’s health department updated its guidelines for houses of worship on July 1, adding new restrictions on singing and chanting. The guidelines explain that these activities “negate the risk reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing” since there is a greater chance that COVID-19 will spread through “contaminated exhaled droplets.”
The guidelines suggests practicing these activities by internet streaming or in their own homes.
The three Northern California churches suing are Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel of Fort Bragg and River of Life Church in Oroville.
One of the churches is represented by ACLJ run by Jay Sekulow, a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team.
Earlier this year in the LA Times:
A sharply divided Supreme Court on Friday rejected a challenge to California’s limits on large church gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, dismissing an appeal brought by a San Diego-area church that argued state rules infringed on its religious freedom.
The justices by 5-4 vote said California could enforce its rules, at least for now. Chief Justice John G. Roberts joined the court’s four liberal justices in upholding the state’s rules.