More than 1,200 California religious leaders placed Gov. Gavin Newsom on notice, saying they plan on bringing back members for in-person services on May 31.
In direct opposition to the state’s stay-at-home order that was designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, religious leaders signed what they call a “declaration of essentiality” — a letter that announces their plans to reopen while observing social distancing guidelines.
“We believe you overlooked the essential and critical nature of the services provided by clergy and religious assemblies throughout California,” religious leaders said in the letter. “Millions of California residents have a deep and sincere reliance upon their connection with local ministries, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and the clergy that lead them. The mandated closure of religious organizations is having a significant and detrimental secondary effect on the citizens of California.”
Attorney Robert Tyler represents Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi. He told the Associated Press that as many as 3,000 places of worship may resume services by the end of the month.
“This letter was not sent for the purposes of asking for permission,” he said.
The letter from California religious groups comes one day after the U.S. Justice Department said Newsom’s stay-at-home order discriminates against churches and places an “unfair burden” on them.
“We believe that the Constitution calls for California to do more to accommodate religious worship, including in Stage 2 of the Reopening Plan,” said the DOJ in a letter to Newsom Monday.
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