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'You're Banned. You Can't Sing at Church': Christians Push Back at 'Tyrannical' Dictate from CA Governor

07-07-2020
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ABOVE: Pastor Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, appeared on the Tuesday afternoon edition of CBN's Newswatch to talk about California Gov. Gavin Newsom's order against singing and chanting in churches. Newswatch is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel

Many Christian leaders are speaking out against California Gov. Gavin Newsom's order prohibiting singing in churches. Pastor Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, is leading the charge, saying it's "completely discriminatory."

The Bible is clear that singing is a central part of the Christian faith. In the New Testament, Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

As CBN News reported, The Golden State's new guidance went into effect on July 1. People are free to attend public worship services, but Gov. Newsom says they can't sing or chant in those services, telling them to just keep that part of their worship at home.

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In a post to Instagram on July 3, Rodriguez, who also serves as the senior pastor of the New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, CA, wrote: "I publicly commended the governor of California for his initial response to this pandemic. As a member of the national COVID-19 recovery commission, I affirm the CDC recommendations. However, I believe Newsom's order regarding singing is completely discriminatory. How can you permit, not for one day, but for many days, tens of thousands to march in protest without wearing masks and then demand that 100 worshipers refrain from singing?"

"The coronavirus task force reported in the past 48 hours that one of the primary reasons many states, including California, are experiencing a spike is directly related to the protests and marches (not church gatherings). What is next? What else will the governor demand from the church in the name of COVID-19? We are what we tolerate," Rodriguez continued. 

"Again, I believe the governor of California did a very good job in the beginning of this pandemic saving many lives. However, this is wrong, BTW; My family marched and protested peacefully alongside our brothers and sisters. This is not an either or political issue. This is about our God-given rights. #inalienablerights," he concluded. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I publicly commended the governor of California for his initial response to this pandemic. As a member of the national COVID-19 recovery commission, I affirm the CDC recommendations. However, I believe Newsom’s order regarding singing is completely discriminatory. How can you permit, not for one day, but for many days, tens of thousands to march in protest without wearing masks and then demand that 100 worshipers refrain from singing? The coronavirus task force reported in the past 48 hours that one of the primary reasons many states, including California, are experiencing a spike is directly related to the protests and marches (not church gatherings). What is next? What else will the governor demand from the church in the name of COVID-19? We are what we tolerate. Again, I believe the governor of California did a very good job in the beginning of this pandemic saving many lives. However, this is wrong. BTW; My family marched and protested peacefully alongside our brothers and sisters. This is not an either or political issue. This is about our God-given rights. #inalienablerights

A post shared by Samuel Rodriguez (@pastorsamuelrodriguez) on

During an interview on CBN's Newswatch program Tuesday afternoon, Rodriguez said the terminology the governor used was "banned."

"Are you kidding me?" he said. "I just participated in a protest where many individuals were wearing masks, but many were not. How can you permit tens of thousands to march and protest, and again I back up and endorse the peaceful protest. But then how can you say that a hundred people can't sing in church?"

"And again, the word 'banned.' It was done with such nonchalant, dictatorial, totalitarian, just off the cuff - 'You're banned. You can't sing at church.' Are you serious?" he said. "So I just hope and pray that every Californian will wake up and smell the proverbial coffee, and push back on this. It's outrageous."

Rodriguez explained that in California African and Latino churches when "in church we worship. Part of our cultural DNA is we get our praise on." The pastor said the governor should have worded his order differently. 

"He could have said, 'I highly recommend churches avoid choirs. If you are going to sing at church, wear a mask. That would have been nuance. That would have been beautiful. That would have been nice. But that's not what he did. 'I hereby ban singing, chanting, worshipping'," Rodriguez told CBN News. 

Several Christian legal organizations are also speaking out against Newsom's ban on singing, saying it's clearly not enforcible. 

"Arbitrary, capricious, and tyrannical," that's what attorney and president of Advocates for Faith & Freedom Robert Tyler called Newsom's singing ban. "Let me be clear, the state does not have the jurisdiction to ban houses of worship from singing praises to God," Tyler wrote in a letter to pastors and Christian leaders over the weekend. "Chanting and shouting are allowed at mass protests, but singing or chanting in church with a mask and social distancing is forbidden. While California continues to allow abortion clinics, liquor stores, and marijuana dispensaries to freely operate, they simultaneously ban singing praise and worship to honor God."

Dean Broyles, president of the National Center for Law and Policy also holds a similar view. 

"So, mask-less BLM protests and Antifa riots (and looting) where people are definitely not social distancing and are chanting and shouting are permitted, while singing or chanting in church with a mask and social distancing are forbidden. Am I missing something here?" Broyles asked. "Pastors and churches need to know that the state does not have the jurisdiction to mandate to the church how it worships God. This is just another discriminatory and hypocritical edict that Governor Newsom does not have the authority to issue or enforce. Pastors must be guided by the scriptures and their conscience."
 
Although the guideline document says churches "must" stop singing, Pacific Justice Institute Chief Counsel Kevin Snider believes Newsom's church instructions are presented as OSHA workplace guidance and therefore, only provide strong admonition to discontinue singing and chanting, not a mandate to stop. And since OSHA's jurisdiction is limited to the workplace, the recommendations only apply to church employees. "Despite the language set forth in the OSHA Guidance, OSHA has no legal authority over volunteers or congregants who attend services," he wrote in a letter to pastors. "The OSHA Guidance is just that – guidance." 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver has also weighed in, saying, "Governor Newsom's restrictions on religious activity is unconstitutional. The state has no authority to direct the manner and form of worship. It is beyond the competence and the authority of the state to ban singing and chanting in houses of worship. The hypocrisy is most evident when you see the same governor banning signing and chanting in religious services while encouraging the same activity in mass protests." 

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