A federal judge ordered California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to pay $1.35 million over religious discrimination towards churches while the state’s pandemic lockdown was ongoing.
Apart from paying the attorney fees for Harvest Rock Church, the one that filed a lawsuit against the governor, Judge Jesus Bernal of the U.S. District Court also ruled that the state restrictions imposed on houses of worship are only allowed if child infections increase by 100%. The number of statewide cases should also be 26 per 100,000 people at the very least. Alternatively, the ICU bed capacity of hospitals needs to go under 20%.
Bernal also ruled that every “new public health precautions” connection to religious worship in places of worship that are not in the guidance would be included.
Matt Staver, the plaintiff church’s attorney, described Newsom as “the worst governor in America,” from a religious freedom standpoint. He said churches remained open during the lockdown. For it, criminal charges threaten both pastors and parishioners regularly. Some such charges go up to a year in prison.
The attorney added that the restrictions Newsom put in place discriminated against churches on purpose while giving special treatment to many secular gatherings and business organizations. Staver also pointed out that the ruling is permanent and that Newsom can never do it again.
The lockdowns put in place by Newsom threatened Christians with prison time for trying to head to church.
As per the Washington Examiner, California’s lockdown started on March 19 last year. It allowed “essential businesses” to still open, churches do not fall under this category based on the state’s guidelines. On May 26, 2020, Newsom finally allowed churches to open. However, they can only open at a 25% capacity, and also with less than 100 people. During the summer of the same year, this was rescinded due to another lockdown that only ended on April 8, 2021, in most parts of California.
Newsom’s lockdown orders — which were largely similar to other draconian measures put in place by Democratic governors and mayors across the country — literally threatened to jail Christians for just trying to go to church.
In the middle of all these, Newsom also restricted singing, outdoor churches, and even holding Bible studies.