(ETH) – This week, a California District Court approved the settlement of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry’s lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom, establishing the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against COVID restrictions on churches and places of worship.
The Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit religious rights law firm, represented Harvest Rock in their legal proceedings against the governor and the state. Under the settlement agreement, discriminatory restrictions on worship and religious gatherings may no longer be applied to churches and places of worship.
The governor must also pay Liberty Counsel $1,350,000 to reimburse attorney’s fees and costs. Newsom is the first governor in the U.S. to be reprimanded so severely on this issue, being ordered to obey a permanent injunction on behalf of houses of worship. The settlement references several Supreme Court opinions, including Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, that cite a long list of similar nonreligious activities the High Court set forth as comparable gatherings.
While the state allowed activity at grocery stores, warehouses, big box stores, transportation, and more, Newsom had unconstitutionally shut down religious activities like church gatherings. According to the permanent injunction, churches and places of worship may never again have discriminatory restrictions placed on them that are not equally applied to a long list of “critical infrastructure” or “essential services” as outlined in several Supreme Court precedents cited in the settlement.
“This is a momentous day for churches in America! After nearly a yearlong battle defending our religious freedoms, our lawsuit has reached a permanent settlement in our favor,” Harvest Rock Senior Pastor Ché Ahn said. “I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California, knowing this case will act as a precedent, not only in our state but also in our nation,” he continued. FULL REPORT