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California, May 25, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A district judge has ordered California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, to pay $1.35 million in attorney fees and costs to Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry.
The hefty settlement amount marks a victory not only for Harvest ministries – who sued Newsom for banning indoor worship services – but also for houses of worship across California, since the court order permanently bans COVID-related discriminatory religious service restrictions.
“California may never again place discriminatory restrictions on churches and places of worship,” Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said regarding the decision, which Liberty Counsel won on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry.
The court order states that California can no longer impose any COVID-related capacity restrictions on places of worship, unless specific numbers of COVID-related infections and hospital admissions are met. In that case, restrictions on churches cannot be any more severe than those “imposed on other similar gatherings of similar risk.”
The permanent injunction against Newsom, which is the first of its kind against a U.S. state governor, cites several Supreme Court decisions following prior lawsuits against Newsom, as well as a lawsuit by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
These lawsuits decried COVID policies, primarily in California, that unfairly banned attendance at churches while allowing similar gatherings at places offering so-called “essential services,” and even strip clubs. In November, a California judge ruled that Newsom could not restrict strip club gatherings, arguing that the entertainment there is “constitutionally protected speech.”
One of these Supreme Court decisions followed an earlier legal challenge by Harvest Rock Church, and resulted in the tossing of a California order banning all in-person worship.
The Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom ruling was cited in turn in a decision that stopped enforcement California’s indoor religious services ban, after a Catholic church belonging to the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) was issued two $500 citations for celebrating Mass.
In April, the Supreme Court ruled that California’s restrictions on at-home religious gatherings were unconstitutional, after Santa Clara County pastors sued. At this point, according to the New York Times, the brief document “expressed impatience with California’s federal appeals court,” the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, saying it had repeatedly disregarded the Supreme Court’s instructions.
“This is the fifth time the court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s Covid restrictions on religious exercise,” the majority opinion said.
Powerful nations of the world, including China, the UK, and Canada are discussing plans to require so-called 'vaccine passports' as a condition for travel, and possibly to restrict entry to shopping and entertainment venues.
Israel has already put in place a system to discriminate against those who choose not to take the COVID vaccine, and, in the United States, Joe Biden has signed a new executive order which could pave the way for the implementation of a 'vaccine passport' system. [See more below.]
This kind of medical dictatorship must be resisted, and therefore, we must act quickly before these authoritarian notions take root and spread!
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to SAY NO to government 'vaccine passports.' Tell your legislators to respect your freedom not to vaccinate without fear of repercussion.
People should not have to live in fear of government retribution for refusing a vaccine which is being rushed to market by Big Pharma and their fellow-travelers in NGOs, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
It would be intolerable and immoral for the government to coerce someone, and their family, to take a COVID vaccine against their will just so they can do their weekly grocery shopping, go to a high school soccer game, travel on public transport, or visit their relatives who live in a different part of the country, or overseas.
Medical freedom must be respected in principle and also in practice.
So, it is now time that our policy-makers listen to all voices involved in this vital conversation, and start to represent those who will not tolerate being punished, restricted, or tracked for refusing an experimental vaccine.
Simply put, legislatures must begin to act as legislatures again.
Questions must be asked. Hearings and investigations must be held. And, the legislatures of each state and country must return to the business of representing the people who voted for them, assuming their rightful place as the originator of legislation.
We will no longer accept the dictates of executive branches without question. And, neither can we accept the dictates of some doctors who seem detached from reality and from science.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition which asks national political leaders (as well as state and provincial legislators in the U.S. and Canada) to pledge to respect the rights of those who refuse a COVID vaccine, and NOT introduce 'vaccine passports,' or any other system which would discriminate on the basis of taking the COVID vaccine.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Biden executive order directs government to evaluate ‘feasibility’ of vaccine passports' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/biden-executive-order-directs-government-to-evaluate-feasibility-of-vaccine-passports
'China lobbies WHO to develop COVID vaccine passports for all nations' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/china-lobbies-who-to-develop-covid-vaccine-passports-for-all-nations
'UK advances plans for vaccine passports to travel, enter stores' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/uk-advances-plans-for-vaccine-passports-to-travel-enter-stores
'Canada’s health minister: Gov’t ‘working on the idea of vaccine passports’' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/canadas-health-minister-govt-working-on-the-idea-of-vaccine-passports
'European Commission president plans to introduce vaccine passports' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/european-commission-president-plans-to-introduce-vaccine-passports
'Israel’s ‘Green Passport’ vaccination program has created a ‘medical Apartheid,’ distraught citizens say' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/israels-green-passport-vaccination-program-has-created-a-medical-apartheid-distraught-citizens-say
'LA schools to track every kid using Microsoft’s ‘Daily Pass’ COVID app' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/la-schools-to-track-every-kid-using-microsofts-daily-pass-covid-app
The latest court order also cements a prohibition of restrictions on singing and chanting in places of worship. Such restrictions were earlier upheld in California even after the Supreme Court allowed California churches to open up. Only after increasing losses before the U.S. Supreme Court did Newsom quietly scrap his 10-month old COVID-19 church singing ban.
Even after the singing ban was kept in place, Harvest Rock Senior Pastor Ché Ahn “told his congregation that the church would defy the ban on singing,” reported CBN News. “Fifty percent of worship is singing. We're gonna sing no matter what,” Ahn said at the time.
Pastor Ahn celebrates the victory as a foundation for future legal decisions.
“I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California, knowing this case will act as a precedent, not only in our state but also in our nation,” said Ahn.