Restrictions on In-House Services in California Lifted by the Supreme Court


On Friday, the U.S Supreme Court gave an order that prohibits California from implementing restrictions on in-house religious gatherings. This includes Bible studies and prayer meetings. According to the California rule, religious gatherings at home should not be more than three households.

However, the Supreme Court stated that this rule violates the First Amendment’s protection of religious exercise. In its statement, the court also reprimanded the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 5-4 unsigned order, for not granting an injunction.

Christian Post reports that those who formed the majority were Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Samuel Aliko. Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett are appointees of former President Donald Trump.

Besides, the majority opinion stated that some comparable secular activities get preferential treatment than in-house religious gatherings in California. These secular activities include movie theaters, retail stores, indoor restaurants, personal care services, hair salons, private suites at sporting events and concerts. More so, the activities bring more than three households together.

Rev. Jeremy Wong and Karen Busch in Santa Clara County filed a motion that sought a sanction to the rule of the state. Prior to the pandemic, Busch and Wong organized worship services, prayer meetings, and Bible studies at their home. They hold these services in their homes because they recognize the need to assemble for small group “house church.” 

Furthermore, the petitioners pleaded for emergency interventions because they truly believe assembling for small-group, ‘house church’ fellowship, is as important to their faith, the same way a Catholic cherishes Mass.

The state and local corona virus restrictions on worship gatherings have been challenged by several churches. Earlier on, the Supreme Court had issued rulings against restrictions that are COVID-19-related in New York and California.

However, the motion argued that California has totally restricted or partially restricted those assembling and many others for about a year now. The motion continued;

 “By contrast, the State allows countless other activities to take place outdoors without any numerical limitations, from weddings and funerals to secular cultural events and political rallies. It also permits more than three households to congregate inside buses, trains, universities, airports, barber shops, government offices, movie studios, tattoo parlors, salons, and other commercial venues.”

In its ruling, the Supreme Court stated that “Although California officials changed the challenged policy shortly after this application was filed, the previous restrictions remain in place until April 15th, and officials with a track record of ‘moving the goalposts’ retain authority to reinstate those heightened restrictions at any time.’’

This week, California is prepared to relax the restrictions as residents are receiving vaccines.

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