Like other governors across the country, California’s Gavin Newsom included church services in his executive order banning non-essential businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. He announced last week that some businesses can begin re-opening on May 5 as part of a four-stage plan.
But churches were not included in the first stage. They have to wait until stage three, which could be months away. Pastors in California say they will not wait that long and will open at the end of the month with the proper distancing restrictions. From CBN News (emphasis added):
Nearly 500 California pastors are preparing to open their doors on Sunday, May 31st – whether or not they have guidance from the state.
“The churches are not asking for permission,” said Bob Tyler, a religious freedom attorney advising the pastors. “The governor is sitting here as a dictator, trumping the Constitution and is kind of hanging on to this state of emergency for as long as he can hold it.”
“We’ll give the governor an opportunity to amend his order,” said Tyler. “If he doesn’t, these pastors have told me that they’re committed to opening regardless of what the governor decides.”
Starting today, Newsom is allowing the opening of “lower risk” workplaces like clothing stores, florists, and sporting goods stores under stage 2 of his plan.
Armed with constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom, churches have been pushing back against government orders to shut down along with non-essential businesses and services. Christians consider their church services very much essential.
“The Executive Orders are rightly intended to prevent avoidable deaths. Yet the sobering truth is that, unless the Lord Jesus returns, each of us that survives the pandemic will still die. There is no escaping death, for death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23), and we have all sinned (Romans 3:23). But there is good news: The Lord Jesus came to save all who repent and believe through his life, death, and resurrection, and he will come again to make all things new. This gospel message means hope for sinners and the downcast. It is the good news that the spiritually sick in Virginia need to hear in these dark days, and which churches long to celebrate corporately.”
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit just shot down Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s order barring church services during the COVID-19 crisis.