Chula Vista Church Paves Way For Indoor Worship In California During Pandemic
Monday, February 8, 2021
Photo by Alexander Nguyen
In a 6 to 3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that California could no longer ban indoor church services.
One of the two cases the court ruled on came from South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista.
Bishop Arthur Hodges is a pastor at South Bay United. He said that he wants places of worship across California to be treated equally when compared to secular institutions in the state.
“The Supreme Court of the United States with this ruling reaffirmed that Americans should never be forced to have to choose between obeying God or government,” Hodges said.
South Bay United has tried repeatedly to get the state's ban on indoor worship overturned since last May, saying they should be treated the same as big box stores.
“In every tier, comparable secular activities and services, organizations were treated more favorably than churches,” said attorney Charles LiMandri.
LiMandri is part of the legal team at Limandri & Jonna LLP that represents South Bay Pentecostal Church in the lawsuit.
He said his client exceeds CDC guidelines for COVID-19 safety protocols and that there isn’t significant data that proves churches are the cause of major COVID-19 outbreaks.
“Since May, there have been relatively few infections at churches compared to other activities, including people shopping or people using public transportation,” LiMandri said. “So, I think we had strong data that churches aren’t the problem.”
San Diego County officials did not want to comment on the matter, but said they have changed the public health order to fit the new ruling.
The amendment to the county's public health order is listed under section 11A and reads: “... places of worship which in addition to the listed sector activities are allowed to operate indoor at 25% capacity with singing and chanting being prohibited during indoor services.”
LiMandri said Friday’s ruling was only one part of the case they filed. They are expecting further rulings on increasing indoor church capacity as well as chanting and singing indoors with masks sometime over the next four weeks.
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