Churches Sue California for Banning Their ‘Constitutional Right’ to Sing
Churches fight ban prohibiting singing amid the coronavirus pandemic
Evangelical churches in Northern California are suing the state government for banning those visiting houses of worship from singing while ignoring protests, casinos, and TV studios.
Three churches, including the Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, River of Life Church, and chapel Fort Bragg, filed a request Wednesday in federal court in Redding for a restraining order on the ban prohibiting singing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The churches’ attorneys, who include Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, wrote:
“The Worship Ban is not ‘narrowly tailored’ to further any compelling government interest."
The lawsuit contends that banning worship services violates the churches’ First Amendment rights.
Earlier this month, California banned singing in any indoor religious services to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Officials claimed that this will help protect the “health and safety of the incarcerated population.”
“These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Ralph Diaz said in a news release.
“We aim to implement these decompression measures in a way that aligns both public health and public safety.”
Singing At Church Is Banned But Cali Plans On Releasing Thousands Of Inmates To ‘Slow The Spread Of COVID-19’— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) July 16, 2020
READ MORE: https://t.co/s2zprUA18e
Under the guidelines issued by the Department of Public Health, churchgoers are not allowed to sing even while using masks.
Below are the guidelines:
Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations.
In particular, activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk- reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing.
*Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. Local Health Officers are advised to consider appropriate limitations on outdoor attendance capacities, factoring their jurisdiction’s key COVID- 19 health indicators.
At a minimum, outdoor attendance should be limited naturally through implementation of strict physical distancing measures of a minimum of six feet between attendees from different households, in addition to other relevant protocols within this document.
In May, Churches moved to defy Newsom's orders by promising to resume in-person services.
The defiant move was announced by an attorney who drafted a “Declaration Of Essentiality For Churches."
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a recent appeal by the church challenging Newsom’s guidelines restricting church attendance to 25% of capacity.