In another victory for churches fighting unfairly restrictive COVID mandates against the faithful attending worship services, the U. S. Supreme Court has imposed a permanent injunction against COVID restrictions in the state of California. Several states, including California, Maine, Illinois, Virginia, Kentucky, New York, and others severely restricted people from gathering in their churches for worship, while at the same time allowing much more liberal rules for secular institutions and businesses.
Harvest Rock Church, who filed the suit against the state restrictions, faced stiff fines in light of their continually ignoring the COVID restrictions placed on churches by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Those fines and all charges against Harvest Rock Church will now be dropped. As well, California will be required to reimburse the Liberty Counsel, which represented Harvest Rock Church, to the tune of $1.3 million. Other churches that faced substantial fines have also had their fines and cases dismissed in other states as churches all over the country fight against the unequal restrictions.
The U. S. Supreme Court has already ruled on a number of prior cases, but this is the first permanent injunction against a state’s COVID restrictions on churches. Mat Staver, founder and director of the Liberty Counsel, said, “The dominoes are falling, and churches are being freed from dictatorial and unconstitutional restrictions. The Supreme Court has intervened multiple times to provide relief. As a result, there will be more restrictions lifted and charges dropped for churches in the near future.”
Despite attempts in the past by the secular press to blame churches for spreading the coronavirus, there is no evidence that churches are responsible for spreading the virus, certainly no more responsible than secular gatherings. Is the virus able to ascertain if a particular gathering is for religious or secular purposes, and decide to act more aggressively in religious gatherings? For the most part, churches across the country have cooperated and done their part to adopt measures to keep their own members and the larger community safe.
I wrote about this subject back in November when the Supreme Court was considering a case by Catholic churches and synagogues in New York City, a case that was eventually decided in favor of the churches. There is no justification for states restricting churches and other places of worship more severely than secular institutions and businesses. Places of worship play a vital role in the health and well-being of their members and, I would argue, in the well-being of society as a whole. It is unjust to treat them differently than secular organizations under the law. It is certainly a dangerous precedent for governors to assume that they may do so with impunity.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.