Thomas More Society and South Bay United Pentecostal Church have achieved what can now be called a complete victory at the United States Supreme Court with an April 26, 2021, order vacating the Ninth Circuit’s prior erroneous judgment in the case.
The San Diego area church and its pastor, Rev. Arthur E. Hodges II, sued California Governor Gavin Newsom for COVID prompted discrimination that denied them the right to hold indoor worship services. The governor’s executive orders also put limits on the number of people that could gather for worship and prohibited singing during services.
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Paul Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, called the high court order the “final nail in the coffin” burying Newsom’s unconstitutional chokehold on California churches.
The April 26 order was the latest in a series of triumphs that South Bay has been handed by the United States Supreme Court. On February 5, 2021, the high court awarded the church an historic victory, when it struck down California’s indoor worship ban. Following that decision and the ruling in Tandon v. Newsom (which forbid the state from enforcing COVID–19 restrictions on small group Bible studies and prayer meetings), on April 12, 2021, California announced that it abandoned all capacity limits on churches. On April 23, 2021, Newsom’s administration announced a lifting of all restrictions on congregational singing and chanting in church.
“The most recent April 26 ruling vacating the Ninth Circuit’s prior judgment is another major victory for religious liberty,” declared Jonna. “And it sends yet another clear message to hostile lower courts: if you deprive citizens of constitutional rights, particularly the cherished right to the Free Exercise of Religion, the U.S. Supreme Court will intervene.”
Jonna explained that the effect of having the decision “vacated” means that the prior judgment (by the Ninth Circuit) is erroneous and has no legal weight. Lower courts must now follow what Jonna labels “the unmistakably clear guidance from the United States Supreme Court,” as demonstrated in multiple recent cases….
The above comes from an April 27 email from the Thomas More Society. More on the decision here.
And it took a bunch of feisty dedicated Protestants to front this battle. They don’t even believe in The Real Presence yet were willing to do what most in the Catholic hierarchy were not. They fought for their rights, good on them.
We need to know who our allies are. Many of them are our Protestant brothers and sisters. Yet, on social issues, we can work with people of other religions and all people of good will. A minor point about this case: unlike most Pentecostals, who are Protestants, this particular “church” is not considered Protestant or even Christian by most Protestants. Nor do Catholics consider it a Christian ecclesial community because they do not believe in the Trinity. See this link for their beliefs: https://www.apostolicchristianfaith.com/about The heresy that moves them outside of Christianity is their modalism or Sabellianism.
We believe: “But the Lord of Ages wisely and patiently follows out the plan of grace on our behalf, sinners that we are. In recent times more than ever before, He has been rousing divided Christians to remorse over their divisions and to a longing for unity. Everywhere large numbers have felt the impulse of this grace, and among our separated brethren also there increases from day to day the movement, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration of unity among all Christians. This movement toward unity is called ‘ecumenical.’ Those belong to it who invoke the Triune God and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, doing this not merely as individuals but also as corporate bodies.” (Unitatis Redintegratio #1)
Interesting background, thanks for sharing it.
Perhaps you’d like to join them.
Spinless Bishops. They are not leaders. Their cowardice is why abortion is legal in the U.S.
Bishops are usually pretty good at spin. That’s how they get their jobs ;)
What about the brave Catholic priest who fought the good fight and got indoor worship for his congregation, Father Burfitt, SSPX?