More than 1,200 California pastors vow to hold services in defiance of state order

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More than 1,200 pastors in California plan on resuming in-person religious services on May 31, in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s temporary ban on religious gatherings to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Robert Tyler, an attorney representing a church in Lodi that sued Newsom last month, said the large group of pastors signed a “declaration of essentially” asserting their churches were essential and should be allowed to open. It detailed their plan to reopen on May 31 — with or without the governor’s permission — while observing physical distancing and other virus precautions.

“We believe you are attempting to act in the best interests of the state,” Tyler wrote to Newsom, according to the Los Angeles Times, “but the restrictions have gone too far and for too long.

Newsom has slowly allowed some businesses to reopen as California’s coronavirus hospitalizations have flattened in recent weeks. While retail business, office buildings, restaurants, shopping centers were approved to open as part of California’s second phase — churches are still banned — along with hair salons and sporting events.

They are barred from reopening until the state’s third phase. On Monday, Newsom said that could happen within weeks.

Tyler said some of the pastors represent multiple churches. He expects that up to 3,000 churches across California could have in-person services on May 31. – READ MORE

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