California Church Emergency Motion Set for Argument Monday

Sep 18, 2020

Liberty Counsel will present oral argument on Monday before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry regarding the request for an emergency motion for injunction pending appeal for Governor Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional orders. 

Liberty Counsel and Gov. Gavin Newsom will respond to two questions of the Court by Monday at 9 a.m. PT and oral argument will be presented at 3 p.m. PT. The Court is requesting the current status of Gov. Newsom’s orders. 

Gov. Newsom’s orders discriminate internally and externally. Internally, the orders permit nonreligious activities without limitation in churches, but ban religious activity. Externally, the orders give nonreligious activity preferential treatment while banning similar religious activities in houses of worship. 

Within 45 minutes of filing the motion last Friday, the Court ordered Gov. Newsom to respond by 5:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday, and Harvest Rock Church to reply on Wednesday by 5:00 p.m. PT. In his response, the governor has not presented any legitimate evidence to justify his discriminatory orders that prohibit ALL worship, including home Bible studies and fellowship with anyone who does not live in the home. Yet, Gov. Newsom continues to encourage mass gatherings of protestors throughout the state.

The lawsuit challenges both the total ban on in-person worship (including in private homes) in the counties on the “County Monitoring List,” and the ban on singing and chanting in the remaining counties. In addition to in-person worship at Harvest Rock Church, the church also has many “Life Groups,” which are home Bible studies and fellowship groups. These too are prohibited under Gov. Newsom’s July 6 (no singing and chanting) and July 13 (no worship) orders. Yet while he discriminates against churches, home Bible studies and fellowship meetings, he allows feeding, counseling and housing people in the same building where worship services occur. Newsom argues that only the worship services should be prohibited while the other non-religious services should be allowed. 

Gov. Newsom has also encouraged thousands of protestors to gather throughout the state. Pasadena has allowed hundreds and thousands of protestors and neither the Pasadena Public Health Department nor the Pasadena Prosecutor have attempted to stop the protests in which people are crowded together, many of them not wearing masks. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver, “We are grateful that the Court of Appeals is moving with lightning speed to consider serious constitutional violations of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders. The orders blatantly discriminate against in-person worship services and home Bible studies. The church has a First Amendment right to exist and the state cannot mandate when and how people worship.” 

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