Attorney: 'Regime of harsh restrictions' on churches may be on the way out

Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Chris Woodward (

Stand firm, stand your groundThere's good news on the religious freedom front from California's most populous county, where the churches have been bearing the brunt of restrictions on in-person worship services.

Los Angeles County has rescinded its restrictions on indoor worship, which mirrored the statewide restrictions on indoor worship that Liberty Counsel is fighting in court right now. Roger Gannam is assistant vice president of legal affairs at Liberty Counsel.

"The county of Los Angeles recognizes that the recent Supreme Court decision in the Roman Catholic diocese case out of Brooklyn demonstrates that these restrictions on indoor worship are unconstitutional when so many other activities and group activities are allowed under the category of so-called 'essential' businesses," the attorney explains. "So, this is important because L.A. County has recognized it's unconstitutional to continue these blanket prohibitions on indoor church worship."

Could this come back? Gannam isn't ruling that out.


"I think that's always the case, as we've seen especially in California," Gannam responds. "When restrictions are removed, they seem to always come back – and this time around, restrictions came back with a vengeance and closed down churches throughout most of the state."

The Liberty Counsel attorney adds it's important to note that even though L.A. County has removed its restriction, the state-level restrictions on indoor worship remain.

"That's why Liberty Counsel's lawsuit against the State of California continues, because our clients have churches throughout the State of California – including in Los Angeles County – and they're still prohibited from worshipping indoors under the governor's orders," Gannam says.

"Hopefully though, when the governor either sees the light and changes his order or the order is stricken down by a court, other counties will not try to institute more restrictive provisions like L.A. County's," he continues, "and they'll follow L.A. County's lead and leave churches alone and let them worship according to the dictates of their conscience, of their traditions, recognizing that the vast majority of churches that meet still comply with social distancing, even masking, and are not the sources of widespread outbreak of COVID-19 like they've been made out to be."

Even if you don't live in Los Angeles County or the state of New York,

According to Gannam, even those who don't live in L.A County or the State of New York should care about and pay attention to these cases.

"As the Supreme Court issues a decision that deals with churches and synagogues in New York, it's important for local and state governments in the rest of the country to recognize that precedent and to change their ways accordingly," he explains.

"We're seeing a domino effect where, because of the Supreme Court's decision out of New York, other governments throughout the country are changing their COVID-19 restrictions. We've seen it in Colorado [and] we see it now in L.A. County [where] they recognize the writing on the wall – and the good news for churches is that it seems like this regime of harsh restrictions on churches is coming to an end."

And Gannam contends that's no small matter from a public health standpoint.

"A recent Gallup poll showed the only category of people whose mental health did not decline during the COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines is among people who regularly went to church," he elaborates.

"So, this isn't just spiritual; this isn't a matter of more preference for Christians. It's actually better for our communities for churches to be open and to provide a spiritual safe haven for God's people during these unprecedented times."

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