Feeling hopeful after a high court ruling favored churches in New York state, a California ministry is fighting for the right to hold services, too.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court has ordered a lower federal court to reexamine California restrictions on indoor religious services in areas hard hit by the coronavirus in light of the justices’ recent ruling in favor of churches and synagogues in New York. The high court’s unsigned order Thursday, with no noted dissent, leaves the California restrictions in place for now. But it throws out a federal district court ruling that rejected a challenge to the limits from Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has more than 160 churches across the state. (More details)
On behalf of the multi-campus Harvest Rock Church, Liberty Counsel announced Tuesday it filed a final reply brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in its effort to win an injunction against California’s governor, Gavin Newsom.
The reply brief was submitted this week as part of an emergency application. Newsom was facing a Dec. 1 deadline to respond to the high court, too.
“We'll have to wait and see what the justices decide [about taking up the case], but based upon what they did last week with regards to the New York case, as bad as it was, our case has even worse facts,” Liberty attorney Mat Staver tells One New Now.
Staver and other religious liberty attorneys witnessed the court narrowly rule 5-4 last week in favor of New York churches and synagogues.
In New York, Staver explains, some high-case zones are restricting religious gatherings but in California, he says, nearly 100 percent of churches cannot legally meet.
Harvest Rock, which is part of a worldwide ministry, operates 162 churches across The Golden State that remain closed while big-box stores and other so-called “essential” businesses are operating.
"It is clearly discriminatory," says Staver. "It's the worst restriction of any state by far of places of worship."