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Church Sues After Newsom Bans Home Bible Studies: 'The Governor Is Not the High Priest Over All Religions'

07-21-2020
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ABOVE:  Liberty Counsel's founder and chairman Mat Staver appeared on the Tuesday edition of CBN Newswatch to talk more about the lawsuit filed by Harvest Rock Church. Newswatch is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel.

A California church is suing Gov. Gavin Newsom for banning all indoor worship services, including Bible studies, and singing, saying the restrictions violate their religious freedom.

Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry filed the lawsuit in an attempt to block enforcement of Newsom's orders which target churches. 

The church has many "Life Groups" which are home Bible studies and fellowship groups where people come together to share and learn about the Word of God. These are now forbidden under Gov. Newsom's recent orders. 

CBN News previously reported that Newsom announced on July 13 that all indoor gatherings, including church services, must cease due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. 

Liberty Counsel, a religious rights law group, is representing the church and points out that the governor's actions are contradictory as he recently encouraged thousands of people to gather for protests against social injustice.

"Governor Gavin Newsom cannot disregard the First Amendment and ban all in-person worship in private homes and churches," said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. "Nor can the state micromanage the form of worship by banning singing or chanting. The governor is not the High Priest over all religions." 

"There is not two First Amendments – one for protests and one for houses of worship. Gov. Newsom encourages thousands of protesters to gather in the streets but bans in-person worship and home Bible studies and fellowship. This discriminatory treatment is unconstitutional," Staver added.

Written in the 74-page lawsuit, the church declares that in times of "trouble and distress," members "are to sing to the Lord even more and to sing aloud to Him."

Lead Pastor Che Ahn defended the church saying, "I want us to pray right now that we will win that court case. No one is above the Constitution. No one is above the law. As a pastor, I believe we've been essential for 2,000 years."

"That's unprecedented. Never, in the history of America, has an elected official told a church not to worship. It was a tremendous violation of our First Amendment rights." 

Harvest Rock, which has more than 100 affiliated churches throughout California, states that it "cannot fulfill its vital ministry and sincere religious beliefs without gathering together in person and that it cannot effectively engage in its constitutionally protected free exercise of religion on the internet."

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