Today, a California District Court entered an order approving Liberty Counsel’s settlement of the lawsuit on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry against California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The full and final settlement was approved today by the District Court and thus is the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against Covid restrictions on churches and places of worship.
Under the agreed state-wide permanent injunction, all California churches may hold worship without discriminatory restrictions.
Under the settlement, California may no longer impose discriminatory restrictions upon houses of worship. The governor must pay Liberty Counsel $1,350,000 to reimburse attorney’s fees and costs.
The settlement references several Supreme Court opinions, including Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, that include a long list of similar nonreligious activity the High Court set forth as comparable gatherings. These include grocery stores, warehouses, big box stores, transportation, infrastructure, telecommunications, and much more. In other words, churches and places of worship may never again have discriminatory restrictions placed on them that are not equally applied to a long list of “critical infrastructure” or “essential services” as outlined in several Supreme Court precedents cited in the settlement agreement.
Pastor Ché Ahn, founder of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, received a letter from the Pasadena Criminal Prosecutor threatening him, the staff, and anyone who attends church with daily criminal charges each up to one year in prison, and daily fines of $1,000. Despite this intense opposition, Pastor Ahn stood against these unconstitutional executive orders. He risked criminal charges and fines, as did those who worked for the church and those who attended. Thanks to his leadership, every church in California is now free.
Newsom originally imposed the most severe restrictions on churches and even home Bible studies and worship in the nation. Now after multiple reprimands from the U.S. Supreme Court, including two on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, Gov. Newsom will be the first governor in America to have a permanent injunction against him on behalf of houses of worship.
This case involved three emergency injunctions pending appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, two oral arguments before a panel of three judges, two orders from the U.S. Supreme Court, including an injunction pending appeal issued by the High Court on February 5, 2021.
The timeline for actions regarding California’s worship restrictions include:
March 19, 2020 – May 25, 2020: No Worship
May 26, 2020 – July 12, 2020: 25 percent capacity but no more than 100 people
July 13, 2020 – April 8, 2021: No worship for over 90 percent of California
April 9, 2021 – April 12, 2021: Restrictions on home Bible study lifted but not on singing and chanting
April 13, 2021 – May 9, 2021: Mandatory attendance limits are lifted
May 17, 2021 – and Forever: Discriminatory restrictions on churches permanently removed
Under the settlement agreement, discriminatory restrictions on worship and religious gatherings may no longer be applied to churches and places of worship….
The above comes from a May 17 release from Liberty Counsel.