California’s strict coronavirus rules banning indoor worship were blocked and revised by a U.S. Supreme Court injunction late Friday night, drawing praise from figures like Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. He emphasized the importance of in-person religious gatherings and stressed that the Catholic Church is following “reasonable measures” to limit the epidemic.
“This is a very significant step forward for basic rights. This decision makes clear we can now return to worshiping safely indoors without risk of harassment from government officials,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said Feb. 6.
“As Christians we are members of a Church, which literally means an assembly of people coming together to worship God,” Cordileone continued. “This is our identity; it is in our very nature to gather in person to give honor and glory to God. And especially as Catholics we know that our worship cannot be livestreamed: there is no way to give Communion, or any of the other sacraments via the internet.”
California’s limits on religious services can vary by county, depending on infection rates. However, almost all of the state is in the Tier 1 ranking of viral spread, and this tier bars in-person worship indoors, the New York Times reports. Critics have said the ban wrongly singles out religious gatherings and is among the strictest in the country.
The Supreme Court’s unsigned order said that the total ban on indoor worship is unconstitutional. At most, the state may limit indoor capacity to 25% of normal. It left the ban on singing intact.
The injunction concerned two different challenges brought by South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista and Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, both of which had sued California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a legal group with a specialty in religious freedom cases, was representing the South Bay church.
Six justices favored the injunction, while three did not. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
“California no longer asks its movie studios, malls, and manicurists to wait,” Gorsuch said. “As this crisis enters its second year — and hovers over a second Lent, a second Passover, and a second Ramadan — it is too late for the state to defend extreme measures with claims of temporary exigency, if it ever could. Drafting narrowly tailored regulations can be difficult. But if Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California’s churches, synagogues, and mosques, something has gone seriously awry.”
Gorsuch said lower courts should have followed the “extensive guidance” previously given by the Supreme Court. “This court made it abundantly clear that edicts like California’s fail strict scrutiny and violate the Constitution,” he said.
Chief Justice Roberts, writing in his own opinion, said that the state’s judgement that no adherents can safely worship even in “the most cavernous cathedral” is a view that “appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake.” At the same time, he saw “no basis” to override the state ban on singing indoors, given conclusions that singing raises the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus.
Cordileone said the importance of in-person worship and in-person distribution of the sacraments is why he gave pastors permission at Christmas “to bring congregations indoors under the same conditions permitted indoor retail, if the weather or safety conditions required it.”
“The Supreme Court has now made it very clear to California government that permitting this is a fundamental right and the law of the land,” the archbishop said. “I trust and hope our state officials will appreciate the care we’ve taken all throughout this crisis to protect the public health with masks, social distancing and other reasonable measures.”
Justice Elana Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. She accused the court of practicing “armchair epidemiology” in “the worst public health crisis in a century.”
The above comes from a Feb. 6 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.
It is good to read that the Supreme Court has found California’s total ban on indoor worship to be unjustifiably broad. After all, the right of citizens to freely exercise their religion [including the freedom to worship] is a Constitutional right. Yet five justices permitted the continued ban of all singing during indoor worship. This ban not only to full congregational singing [which arguably may be defensible], but to any singing by a clergy-officiant and cantor, even if they wear masks. Small potatoes? Not at all. Consider this: In Eastern Catholic Churches and Orthodox Christian Churches, the Eucharistic Liturgy [called the Divine Liturgy] is the essential form of public worship. In all these Churches liturgical law requires that the overwhelming portion MUST BE SUNG by the priest and the cantor. No singing, no Eucharist. Consequently, the right of these Christians to practice their Church’s essential form worship is denied them. Does this make sense when California allows unmasked singers to perform in much more confined spaces such as casinos, nightclubs and supper clubs? Money talks, I guess. And in California it even supersedes a Constitutionally protected right.
I’m happy that people who take their faith–and their right to freely exercise it–seriously are challenging state action hell-bent on making public worship as hard as possible.
More lawsuits, please, until the politicos and paper-shufflers leave us alone.
In Democrats’ vision for America abortion is lawful and federally subsidized anytime until birth, and even after birth babies who survive may legally be left to die, but indoor worship is not permitted. Evil. Pure Evil. That demon Pachamama whom Francis honored on the altar at St. Peter’s Basilica is behind much of this.
Note: Our “Catholic” President did nothing to defend the Church while she’s been attacked.
Glad the Supreme Court did.
The opinion by the Chief Justice was very well reasoned. The dissent highlights that secular indoor activities similar to Church (movies, theater performances, concerts) are also completely prohibited. But I’m not sure those activities have first amendment protections.
The prohibition on singing stands, as it should for a congregation, unless religious houses can demonstrate that a cantor or celebrant receives a negative test within 48 hours of the service.
Hopefully, everyone will get the vaccines as soon as they are made available to them, so we can be done with all this nonsense very soon.
I’m not getting that “vaccine”. It’s a messenger RNA experimental molecule that reprograms a person’s immune system DNA. It will make the recipient susceptible to a trigger released into the environment that activates the recipient’s reprogramed DNA to induce a fatal event. It’s part of the global elite’s effort to reduce the global population. Mark my words.
You should not smoke that stuff. It is too potent for you.
Anon, surely you jest, or you listen to QAnon! By the way, the earth is not flat!
There are newer vaccines that don’t rely on mRNA coming up for approval, however, I think the mRNA vaccines are actually more protective. But if you have the notion that the mRNA converts to DNA then is passed from cell to cell via the DNA, then you would be wrong, that’s just not possible. I hope you stay safe and do get the vaccine as it is offered to you.
I hope I’m wrong … but my gut says anyone receiving mRNA gene therapy is eventually going to regret it … either for medical reasons or moral ones … or both.
I’m not planning on getting the vaccine either. I consider the vaccine to be safe, but its risks are not fully characterized. Since I have little fear from the coronavirus but also some minor concern about the vaccine, I feel the best option is to build antibodies the natural way with the live virus.
In NY singing was never prohibited and the churches have been open since the beginning of July. Guess what? Not major outbreaks. It’s all about control.
It should have been our bishops who brought this lawsuit!
Evil in the world spread exponentially after Pachamama at the Vatican. Coincidence? I doubt it.
Evil and the coronovirus in the world spread exponentially after Trump at the White House. Coincidence? I doubt it.
Says the angry liberal who voted for the most ant-life president in US History.
At least one Bay Area county was quick to claim that supreme court decision does not affect its own orders. Saturday night, 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.
I’m not a lawyer, but if the County collects damages from the churches for being open, I would think that the County would likely be wide open to lawsuits that claim that the County violated their civil rights.
Jon Rappaport’s most recent blog summed it up perfectly. https://blog.nomorefakenews.com/
Rappaport is a virus and science denier. Please don’t click on his crap.
I agree. I am at a loss as to why more people do not do their research on this and so-called other “vaccines”. Not only researching what is in the “vaccine”, but also researching the side effects and even deaths minutes to hours after taking the “vaccine”.
Sheila the vaccines are not causing deaths, and that has been studied now in millions of people. Many or most people do have a sore arm, and a large number do have some mild symptoms after the second shot. But no one has died because of the vaccine. And it’s not a “so called” vaccine. It IS a vaccine and it is a pretty good one.
Perhaps the Deacon could clarify how the Eastern rites plan to deal with no singing.
We could still Hum. Worshipful, with a dash of Churchillian defiance.
♫ Hmm-mmm-mmm, Hmm, Hmmbaya . . .
Contrary to the title of this article, a 6-3 decision by the SCOTUS is not a “smack down” of the California restrictions on religious worship. The primary purpose of the Supreme Court is to clarify matters that are ambiguous. This is one of those instances. A 9-0 decision by the court would have been more consequential politically.
No, you’re wrong. And you put words in the title that aren’t there. Nowhere does it say “smack down” as you allege. The original title in the source article says “rebuke” and this page says “comes down hard”. But since you want to play left-wing semantic games, it was a smack-down because the restrictions were smacked down.
Elena Kagan showed in her opinion that she’s not fit to be on the court. She thinks she’s in a position to decide the relative risk or safety of communal gatherings. That’s not her role at all. Liberals on the court just want to legislate and control.