California now will allow drive-in church services amid coronavirus shelter-in-place order, reversing course after lawsuit

California has reversed course and now is allowing drive-in church services amid coronavirus shelter-in-place orders, KMPH-TV reported.

What are the details?

The policy change came after a lawsuit from the Center for American Liberty and its request for a temporary restraining order, the station said.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra responded by agreeing that since cars are “technology,” drive-in church services should be allowed under the state’s shelter-in-place rule, KMPH said.

The caveat is that drive-in church service participants must continue to follow social distancing guidelines, the station said.

“The state does not get to dictate the method of worship to the faithful,” Harmeet K. Dhillon, chief executive officer for the Center for American Liberty, said in a statement at the time of the lawsuit. “If a Californian is able to go to Costco or the local marijuana shop or liquor store and buy goods in a responsible, socially distanced manner, then he or she must be allowed to practice their faith using the same precautions.”

After the policy change, Dhillon called it “heartening progress for our clients, and all Californians. But while this is a step in the right direction, it is still not enough.”

More from Dhillon:

“The state is still holding houses of worship to a different standard,” explained Dhillon. “[Attorney General William] Barr’s statement on Tuesday was clear, states cannot have two sets of restrictions — those that apply to churches and the more relaxed standards that apply to other entities. The State’s orders still do not define worship as an essential activity that permits travel in California, even while at the same time the state is now saying drive-in worship is permissible. The orders are riddled with contradictory and confusing language.”

“Even after these policy changes, houses of worship are still very limited in their permissible activities. Many of these activities provide immeasurable societal good, be it delivering food to the elderly, hosting addiction support groups, providing spiritual comfort and counseling for Californians in crisis, and so many other essential services,” explained Dhillon.

Barr last week warned state authorities that social distancing mandates do not give them the right to restrict religious organizations more than nonreligious ones.

“We intend to pursue this case until all Californians are restored the full free exercise of religion guaranteed to all Americans under the Constitution,” Dhillon added.

Anything else?

In Mississippi, a controversy over drive-in church services was resolved last week after the Democratic mayor of Greenville backed down from his executive order banning such services. Errick D. Simmons’ change of heart happened after uproar and lawsuits earlier this month after city police officers handed out $500 tickets to members of Temple Baptist Church who stayed in their vehicles with their windows up in the church parking lot to listen to their pastor’s radio sermon.

(H/T: LifeSite News)

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