CALIFORNIA: The Department of Justice is warning the State of California that its rules for the reopening of churches and religious services, which appear to be more burdensome than the requirements for similarly risky businesses and commercial enterprises, could be a civil rights violation.
California, like most other states, is working on a phased reopening of the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents of the state are under strict "stay at home" orders that have become sources of conflict and protest for being overly broad and preventing people from gathering in outdoor spaces (like beaches), even when people voluntarily engage in social distancing.
A blanket ban on live church services has led to lawsuits from residents in Lodi, Fontana, and San Diego County arguing that the bans violate First Amendment rights to the free expression of religion. Many federal judges have thus far upheld these restrictions as serving public health. Judge Jesus Bernal for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, noted that thus far the bans on religious gatherings in the state were comparable to the closures of schools, concerts, and sports gatherings, and therefore churches weren't being singled out for special treatment. The bans were being neutrally applied to serve a government goal to protect public health and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.That distinction is important because there have also been clear cases where churches and religious services were being targeted and treated differently.
READ MORE AT https://reason.com/2020/05/20/justice-department-warns-california-not-to-leave-churches-out-of-reopening-plans/
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