Governor Gavin Newsom’s church shutdowns are now barred by a permanent statewide injunction, as a result of a court settlement approved late last week.
Harvester Rock Church and Harvest Ministry International were awarded $3.1 million to pay for legal fees accrued fighting Newsom’s restrictions, which he claimed were to stem the spread of COVID. Harvest filed the suit in the summer of 2020.
Senior Pastor Ché Ahn reacted to the news in a statement:
“This is a momentous day for churches in America! After nearly a yearlong battle defending our religious freedoms, our lawsuit has reached a permanent settlement in our favor. I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California, knowing this case will act as a precedent, not only in our state but also in our nation.
We are incredibly grateful to our attorney Mat Staver and to Liberty Counsel for their relentless support and fierce determination. Most of all, we give all the glory to God for moving mightily in this historic season!”
The permanent injunction bars any future restrictions, which are not equally applied to a lengthy list of “critical infrastructure” or “essential services,” based on Supreme Court precedents cited in the settlement.
Newsom’s crackdown, like COVID policies in several other states, has faced scrutiny and opposition over their arbitrary and discriminatory rules, which favored some businesses, occupations, institutions, and even political events while barring others.
While the state allowed activity at grocery stores, warehouses, big box stores, transportation, and more, Newsom had unconstitutionally shut down religious activities like church gatherings.
According to CBN, the Harvest battle began last July, after California’s governor placed heavy restrictions not only on church gatherings but even on home Bible study get-togethers. Harvest called on The Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit religious rights law firm, to bring a suit challenging the state’s pandemic policies based on First Amendment grounds.
“The Supreme Court intervened multiple times to provide relief,” Liberty Counsel Mat Staver noted about Newsom’s church restrictions. “California may never again place discriminatory restrictions on churches and places of worship. Gov. Gavin Newsom has now been permanently quarantined and may not violate the First Amendment rights of churches and places of worship again.”