Three California churches filed a lawsuit against pro-abortion Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom this week after he exempted abortion facilities but not religious institutions from his stay-at-home mandate during the coronavirus crisis.
Represented by attorney Harmeet Dhillon, the churches argued that Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and officials in San Bernardino and Riverside counties are violating their First Amendment rights to religious freedom and assembly, the Washington Examiner reports.
“The state does not get to dictate the method of worship to the faithful,” Dhillon said. “If a Californian is able to go to Costco or the local marijuana shop or liquor store and buy goods in a responsible, socially distanced manner, then he or she must be allowed to practice their faith using the same precautions.”
The pastors believe they should be able to continue holding church services as long as they follow social distancing recommendations, according to the lawsuit.
Newsom’s order prohibits non-essential business operations and activities during the coronavirus pandemic. However, he allowed an exception for abortion facilities to continue killing unborn babies – even though abortions are almost entirely elective and unnecessary.
Meanwhile, pro-life sidewalk counselors and churches are being fined for supposedly disobeying the state and local health mandates.
According to the report:
James Moffatt, a senior pastor at Church Unlimited in Indio, says he was fined $1,000 for disobeying Riverside County’s stay-at-home order by holding a Palm Sunday service, according to KTLA 5 Los Angeles.
Moffatt “believes that Scripture commands him as a pastor to lay hands on people and pray for them, this includes the sick,” the lawsuit says.
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Fox 10 reports another California church, Abiding Place Ministries in Campo, lost its fight in court Friday when a federal judge refused to allow its members to meet on Easter Sunday in violation of a San Diego County order.
U.S. District Judge Cynthia A. Bashant argued that the right to freedom of religion does not “include the right to expose the community … to communicable disease.”
Most churches in California are not holding in-person services, according to the report. Many now are broadcasting services online or doing drive-in services where people stay in their vehicles with their windows rolled up in the church parking lot and listen to the service over the radio.
But some states are cracking down on drive-in church services, too. Last week, police fined members of a Mississippi church $500 each for attending a “drive-in” service. Supposedly they violated a social distancing order even though the church, Temple Baptist in Greenville, required attendees to stay in their vehicles with the windows up and listen to the worship service through their radios, according to the Washington Times.
In Kentucky, police showed up at another drive-in church service and recorded the license plate numbers of those who attended, left notices on their windshields, and warned people to quarantine for 14 days or else face “further enforcement measures,” according to USA Today.
Additionally, pro-life sidewalk counselors are being fined and arrested for offering information and resources to pregnant moms as they go into abortion facilities. Earlier this month, David Benham and several others were arrested for praying outside an abortion clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police in San Francisco also cited a pro-life sidewalk counselor who was doing outreach outside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility.