- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Churches in California can now hold worship services at full capacity indoors following a lengthy legal battle that pitted congregants against the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the California government’s COVID-19 industry guidance was updated to read, “In response to recent judicial rulings, effective immediately, location and capacity limits on places of worship are not mandatory but are strongly recommended.”

The state Department of Public Health said indoor church services are still “strongly discouraged” and should be limited to 25% capacity in areas that are in the most restrictive purple tier, and that indoor services should still be limited to 50% capacity in the most relaxed yellow tier.

Church performers singing, chanting or playing a wind instrument indoors in the purple tier are still required to wear face coverings at all times and maintain at least 12 feet of physical distance from other performers.

The Supreme Court struck down California’s outright ban on indoor worship services in February, saying it must allow houses of worship to open at 25% capacity. But on Friday, the high court ruled the state can’t enforce coronavirus-related restrictions on home-based religious gatherings such as Bible studies and prayer meetings, The Associated Press reported.

“Governor Newsom should have done this a long time ago,” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, founder of Center for American Liberty, AP reported. “For over a year, the state of California has targeted the faith community for discriminatory treatment depriving them of their fundamental right to worship.”

Jim Franklin, senior pastor at Cornerstone Church, which participated in one of several lawsuits against the state, also applauded the move.

“The law that we obey first of all is the law of God,” Mr. Franklin told a local ABC affiliate. “But the law that is in this land is the constitution of the United States.”

“What this does, is this vindicates us,” he added. “We have said all along that we have a constitutional right to meet and to worship.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide