On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) issued a new order closing all “INDOOR OPERATIONS” for fitness centers, hair salons, malls, “non-critical” offices, and places of worship including churches, in 30 California counties that include roughly 80 percent of the state’s population. The state was the first to lock down in March, but by late April, Newsom had begun allowing some businesses and activities to resume. His rules for churches have often been particularly harsh, and he instituted a ban on singing in houses of worship on July 1.
Newsom mentioned “places of worship” second on his list of establishments that must “CLOSE INDOOR OPERATIONS.”
NEW: As #COVID19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, 30 counties will now be required to CLOSE INDOOR OPERATIONS for:
-Places of Worship
-Offices for Non-Critical Sectors
-Personal Care Services
-Hair Salons and Barbershops
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 13, 2020
Sean Feucht, a missionary activist whose “Let Us Worship” petition has garnered more than 14,000 signatures, condemned Newsom’s latest lockdown as a “tyrannical overreach.”
“Silencing the church seems to be one of his main agendas,” Feucht said of Newsom. “This is insane, what a tyrannical overreach of the government! What an infringement on our Constitution and our free liberty to worship God. We are standing up, this is insane. There’ll be more news to come.”
In less than 20 mins, @GavinNewsom is issuing an order to shut down all indoor church services across CA!
What a tyrannical move and drastic overreach of government into our religious liberties!!
LET US WORSHIP!!!!!
RT THIS AND LETS STAND AGAINST THIS INSANITY!!! pic.twitter.com/OokcTqVLNu
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) July 13, 2020
Speaking about the church singing ban earlier on Monday, Feucht admitted that church gatherings may spread coronavirus.
“I’m sure that you can track COVID-19 to various church gatherings just as much as you could to Costco or going to Home Depot,” the church leader said. “There was this kind of target on the backs of churches.
“We want to have freedom of religion in this nation to worship our God,” Feucht insisted.
Thank you @GDLA for having me on this morning!
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) July 13, 2020
While the 9th Circuit Court upheld Newsom’s restrictions on churches, the governor loosened them after 1,200 California pastors signed a “Declaration of Essentiality,” announcing that they would open their churches on Pentecost, May 31.
The “Let Us Worship” petition
Feucht’s “Let Us Worship” petition rallies Christians to speak up for their religious freedom.
The fervor to worship God free from government edict and societal persecution drove America’s earliest settlers across oceans and wild frontiers to this beautiful land to create a new nation built on a simple premise that all men are created equal and cannot be denied their inalienable rights to life and liberty.
But our freedom to worship God and obey His Word has come under unprecedented attack. Powerful politicians and social media giants have engaged in unchartered abuses of religious liberty, silencing the faithful, banning our voices, and outright attacking our God-given right to declare His goodness.
States across America, including here in California have shut down church services and even outlawed singing in church. Instagram and Twitter is censoring Christian voices every single day. And every hour that passes they grow bolder in their efforts to silence the faithful.
It’s time for the Church to rise up with one voice and tell our government leaders and the rulers of big tech that we refuse to be silenced!
After Newsom announced his new coronavirus lockdown orders, #RecallGavin2020 started trending on Twitter.
As massive protests and riots broke out across the country following the horrific police killing of George Floyd, Newsom condemned the looting and violence but he praised the protests, even though they presented a vector for the spread of coronavirus.
Coronavirus cases have risen by 48 percent in California during the past two weeks, while hospitalizations have increased by 40 percent, Fox News reported.
Church is essential
While Newsom’s new lockdown order does not single out churches for specific restrictions, it does treat church as non-essential. Yet as the pastors who signed the “Declaration of Essentiality” explained, religious services perform an essential role during trying times like a pandemic.
The coronavirus crisis and resulting lockdowns have caused confusion and depression. In Knox County, Tenn., for instance, more people died from suicide than from COVID-19 over a week period. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found 45 percent of adults say the pandemic has affected their mental health, while the Disaster Distress Helpline reported an 891 percent increase in March 2020 over the previous March.
“The mandated closure of religious organizations is having a significant and detrimental secondary effect on the citizens of California. For example, the closure of religious organizations is preventing the numerous ministries and social services provided by churches to the poor, unemployed and distressed. The humanitarian and spiritual support provided by ministries are innumerable,” the Declaration of Essentiality argues.”The spiritual services of ministries are absolutely essential to the health and welfare of the people of California.”
A recent JAMA Psychiatry study found that “religious service attendance is associated with a lower risk of death from despair among registered nurses and health care professionals. These results may be important in understanding trends in deaths from despair in the general population.”
As a Christian, I believe churches unite people with God. But even in a secular sense, religious worship binds people together in community and gives them a vital sense of meaning and purpose that helps bolster them in trying times. While some restrictions may make sense, Newsom appears to have dismissed churches as non-essential after dictating how people will worship in them — by outlawing singing.
Just who, exactly, does the governor of California think he is?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.