More than 1,200 pastors in California say they’re going to reopen their churches on May 31.An attorney for the churches said that some pastors represent more than one place of worship, and as many as 3,000 locations could reopen on Sunday.The pastors have all signed a “declaration of essentiality” and say stay-at-home orders in California have “gone too far.”They plan to open their churches in compliance with social distancing guidelines. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
More than 1,200 pastors in California plan to reopen their churches on May 31 in defiance of the state’s stay-at-home orders put in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Attorney Robert Tyler, who’s representing a church in Lodi, California, that’s suing Gov. Gavin Newsom over the stay-at-home order, told CBS San Francisco that 1,200 pastors have signed a “declaration of essentially,” in which they say the will open on May 31.”We believe you are attempting to act in the best interests of the state, but the restrictions have gone too far and for too long,” Tyler wrote in the letter. “In order to restore the proper balance between public safety and individual liberties, the clergy we represent have declared their intent to begin holding in-person church services beginning on Sunday, May 31, 2020. All services will be held in compliance with CDC and state guidelines for social distancing as is required of ‘essential businesses.'”Tyler said some pastors represent more than one church, and as many as 3,000 churches could reopen as part of the plan.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new criteria related to coronavirus hospitalizations and testing that could allow counties to open faster than the state, during a news conference at Mustards Grill in Napa, Calif., Monday May 18, 2020.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
Newsom has recently allowed some businesses to reopen under strict guidelines, but churches are still banned from performing in-person services.
Pastors said in their letter that they believe Newsom is discriminating against churches, and that they plan to re-open regardless while observing social distancing and other precautions.”This letter was not sent for the purposes of asking for permission,” Tyler said.Many churches have turned to live-streamed services to appease parishioners during the coronavirus, and under the current plan, churches are set to reopen in California’s third stage of reopening.The state is currently in its second stage. California has had 86,197 confirmed case of COVID-19, and 3,542 deaths from the virus.
On Tuesday, The US Justice Department called on Newsom to reopen churches, saying the current plan “discriminates against religious exercise.””California has not shown why interactions in offices and studios of the entertainment industry, and in-person operations to facilitate nonessential ecommerce, are included on the list as being allowed with social distancing where telework is not practical, while gatherings with social distancing for purposes of religious worship are forbidden, regardless of whether remote worship is practical or not,” the DOJ said in a letter.LoadingSomething is loading.