(CP) – Increasing numbers of California churches are planning to restart public services on May 31, Pentecost Sunday, regardless of what the governor of the state says. Church United, a network of approximately 3,000 churches representing 2.5 million members in the Golden State, has announced its intentions to reopen before the state sets in motion the third phase of its reopening plan, which permits modified reopening of houses of worship.
Around the nation, a robust debate has emerged as to how much state entities can restrict certain freedoms, particularly religious worship by deeming it “nonessential” in order to prevent further spread of a disease and stem a public health crisis.
“Our fear is simply this,” Governor Gavin Newsom said, as was reported by The Center Square Saturday, “Congregations of people from far and wide coming together in a closed space at a large scale remains a point of concern and anxiety for us. We are working on guidelines for physical distancing and working with faith leaders talking about unique conditions in their own facilities. Nothing is etched in stone.”
Matt Brown, who pastors Sandals Church in Riverside, blasted the governor’s decision to deem churches “nonessential.” “He didn’t ask us. He overstepped and he’s overreached,” Brown said. “And he needs to step back and he needs to declare that the church is an essential part of what we do as Americans, as what we do as Californians.” READ MORE