Gov. Gavin Newsom of California has been sued by three evangelical churches in the U.S state for ban on singing in places of worship implemented to help stem the spread of the coronvirus violates their 1st Amendment rights.
“Singing in church is a biblical mandate,” said Kevin Green, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Fort Bragg.
The suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Redding, focuses on Newsom’s support of recent Black Lives Matter protests, many of which were prompted by the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police. The plaintiffs — Green’s church, along with Calvary Chapel in Ukiah and the River of Life Church in Oroville — say the governor has protected protesters’ freedom of expression, but not that of churchgoers.
“It’s the inconsistency,” Green said.
“He wasn’t singling out the church until he got to that singing thing,” he said of the governor’s latest orders, issued July 6. “When a man is that inconsistent, I can’t believe him, and that’s why we filed the suit.”
The lawsuit argues that Newsom has specifically targeted churches as spaces where singing and chanting are not allowed, but he hasn’t placed the same restrictions on other locations that remain open, such as shopping malls, child-care centres, and TV and film production locations.
The lawsuit is not the first filed by places of worship against Newsom. In April, three Southern California churches sued Newsom and other state officials, arguing that stay-at-home orders that forced their closure violate the 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion and assembly. Later that month, a small evangelical church in Lodi filed a similar lawsuit, saying that a ban on gatherings was unconstitutional.