California Church Seeks Emergency Relief at Appeals Court

Sr. Pastor Ché Ahn preaching at Harvest Rock Church’s, Ambassador Auditorium

Last Friday afternoon, Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry filed an emergency motion for injunction pending appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional orders.

Within 45 minutes, the court ordered Gov. Newsom to respond tomorrow by 5:00 p.m. PT, and the church to reply by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday. The governor’s orders prohibit ALL worship, including home Bible studies and fellowship with anyone who does not live in the home. Yet, Gov. Newsom continues to encourage mass gatherings of protestors throughout the state.

Following the argument on August 12, Judge Jesus G. Bernal orally denied the request for a preliminary injunction. However, he waited until September 2 to release the written order. The appeal was filed, but it could not be effective until a written order was issued. Now that the order has been issued, the appeal can proceed. Liberty Counsel will also file for an injunction pending appeal.

On August 13, the Pasadena Assistant Prosecutor in the Criminal Division sent Harvest Rock Church and Pastor Che’ Ahn a letter demanding that ALL in-person worship services cease. The letter threatens daily criminal charges and fines to Pastor Ahn, the church, staff, and parishioners. The letter states that each criminal charge is punishable by up to one year in prison.

The lawsuit challenges both the total ban on in-person worship (including in private homes) in the counties on the “County Monitoring List,” and the ban on singing and chanting in the remaining counties. In addition to in-person worship at Harvest Rock Church, the church also has many “Life Groups,” which are home Bible studies and fellowship groups. These too are prohibited under Gov. Newsom’s July 6 (no singing and chanting) and July 13 (no worship) orders. Yet while he discriminates against churches, home Bible studies and fellowship meetings, the governor continues to encourage thousands of protestors to gather throughout the state. Like Gov. Newsom, Pasadena has allowed hundreds and thousands of protestors. Neither the Pasadena Public Health Department nor the Pasadena Prosecutor have attempted to stop the protests in which people are crowded together, many of them not wearing masks.

In Governor Newsom’s response to the motion for the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, he argues that churches are not “essential.” Regarding feeding, counseling and housing people in the same building where worship services occur, Newsom argues that only the worship services should be prohibited while the other non-religious services should be allowed.

Concerning home Bible studies, Newsom argues that he has authority to prohibit home fellowship groups. As to protests, Newsom publicly encourages them, saying “God bless you. Keep doing it.”

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Governor Newsom has not and cannot state why masses of thousands of protestors are less ‘dangerous’ to public health than a responsibly distanced and sanitized worship service. In the landmark 1947 case, the Supreme Court has stated that under the First Amendment, the state cannot prohibit people from attending church against their will. Yet, that is what Gov. Newsom has done.”

SOURCE: Liberty Counsel