California churches to defy state’s violation of First Amendment rights

    Hundreds of California pastors plan to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive orders relegating religious gatherings as nonessential.

    An open letter from pastors to the governor declares their intent to “begin holding in-person church services beginning on Sunday, May 31.”

    The May 7 letter, cites “a very long list of ‘secular’ exceptions” from the stay-at-home orders in California but no similar provisions for churches.

    Pastors will stand as a “counterbalance to unchecked regulatory action.”

    “The list also includes, among other locations: airports; public transportation facilities (i.e. train and bus stations); the entertainment industry (i.e. Hollywood); construction sites, news media facilities; childcare locations; marijuana dispensaries; liquor stores; cafeterias; big box stores, grocery stores, farmer’s markets, convenience stores, carry out restaurants and other retail establishments where large numbers of people gather and assemble.”

    The California religious leaders said their First Amendment rights were being violated and that they are responsible to stand as a “counterbalance to unchecked regulatory action.”

    Health mandates in Alaska also imposed far greater restrictions on religious groups than on pot-shops, grocery stores and a number of so-called “non-essential” outlets.

    The state’s current guidelines restrict church services to 50 people or less no matter how spacious their building, while allowing non-essential businesses to use up to 50% of their building’s capacity.

    Unlike California, there has been no organized push back from Alaska’s religious leaders.

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