Santa Clara County officials ordered churches to keep their doors shuttered for Sunday services despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying that such a ban on indoor services was illegal.
The health officials said in a news release that they felt their health order still falls within the Supreme Court ruling.
“Indoor gatherings of all types remain prohibited in Santa Clara County,” officials said. “Santa Clara County’s local health orders are structured in a fundamentally different way than the state’s rules that were the subject of last night’s (Friday night) U.S. Supreme Court decision. The county has consistently taken a neutral, across-the-board, risk-based approach to curbing Covid-19 that comports with the requirements of last night’s Supreme Court decision. Therefore, all indoor gatherings remain prohibited at this time due to their risk.”
On Friday night, a divided Supreme Court lifted the state ban on indoor religious services, but left in place Covid-19 restrictions on the number of parishioners allowed to attend and as well as a prohibition on singing and chanting….
Hours before the health order was issued, San Jose Catholic Bishop Oscar Cantú told the parishes under his guidance they were free to hold limited capacity indoor services this weekend.
“I am pleased with last night’s Supreme Court Decision affirming the fundamental right to indoor worship in the United States,” the bishop wrote in an email. “Catholic Churches have been worshipping indoors across our country for many months, and there has been minimal Covid transmission at their religious services due to parishes following stringent health and safety protocols pursuant to State and County guidelines….”
The above comes from a Feb. 7 story on msn News.
Breaking news today, Feb. 9, from the Pacific Justice Institute:
Federal District Court Judge Edward Davila granted in part an emergency motion filed by five churches seeking a stay against Governor Gavin Newsom and Santa Clara County’s Public Health Officer, Sara Cody….
Judge Davila granted the emergency motion against the County and State defendants late Monday allowing the churches to operate at up to 25%. The case is Gateway City Church v. Newsom and includes The Home Church, Spectrum Church, Orchard Community Church, and Trinity Bible Church.
Santa Clara County has been the most restrictive jurisdiction in the nation against religious assemblies. It has assessed punitive fines against churches, including a $112,000 fine against North Valley Baptist Church and $2 million against San Jose Calvary Chapel. In the latter case, the church was sued as a public nuisance by the County….
San Jose’s Bishop Cantu updated his statement on Feb. 9:
“Given the temporary order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California stating indoor worship could resume in Santa Clara County at a maximum of 20% of normal capacity, parishes, missions, and chapels in the Diocese of San Jose may resume indoor worship services up to 20% capacity effective today, but only if and when each parish can safely do so. I am grateful that places of worship now have the same capacity limits as retail shopping and personal care services in Santa Clara County.
“Nevertheless, Covid-19 still poses serious risks. All of us need to remain vigilant, wear a mask, maintain physical distance between households, and get vaccinated when we become eligible in order to protect friends, family and the vulnerable among us.
“Catholics in the Diocese of San Jose continue to be dispensed from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass in person. Yet, all the faithful are urged to keep holy the Lord’s Day by sanctifying the whole day with prayer, family fellowship, works of mercy, and either safely attending Mass in person or reverently participating in Mass through livestream.”