Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom has been ordered by California District Court to pay $1.35 million in legal fees as part of a settlement deal, coming out of an approved lawsuit filed against him by Harvest Rock Church based in Pasadena.
The settlement with the church’s Harvest International Ministry is remarkable as the first case of a state-wide injunction against coronavirus pandemic restrictions on places of worship.
The settlement agreement stipulates that churches and other places of worship cannot be the target of discriminatory restrictions anymore.
The already embattled Democrat Governor Newsom must now pay $1,350,000 in order to reimburse the Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit law firm specializing in religious rights, which represented the Harvest Rock Church and Ministry in the lawsuit against California and its governor.
Green light for all but the churches
The lawsuit settlement has made Newsom, who is facing a recall election, the first governor in the country to bear such severe consequences for clamping down on churches during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The settlement is based on a number of opinions by the US Supreme Court.
Those include the Harvest Rock Church vs. Newsom case.
That particular opinion offers a long list of public activities that are nonreligious but are comparable to religious gatherings.
Thus, while Newsom closed down church gatherings in his state contrary to the Constitution, he allowed activities of similar character with respect to transportation, warehouses, grocery stores, and big-box stores, among others.
The court injunction stipulates that churches and other worship venues cannot be subject ever again to discriminatory restrictions which aren’t the same for the other vital services and infrastructure enumerated in the several referenced Supreme Court opinions.
Ché Ahn, a Senior Pastor of the Harvest Rock Church, has hailed the court injunction issuing as a “momentous day” for the rights of American churches.
He emphasized that his ministry’s lawsuit has led to the total reversal of the state of California’s discriminatory restrictions against churches.
Newsom is becoming a professional loser
Mat Saver, the founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel nonprofit, outlined how Newsom through Covid measures favored secular activities with preferential treatment while mistreating churches.
Saver said further Newsom had been “quarantined” permanently, and would not be able to encroach upon the rights of places of worship under the First Amendment.
The Harvest Rock Church lawsuit against Newsom and California goes back to July 2020 when its pastor, Ché Ahn, decided to ignore the governor’s order which had closed down nearly 100% of all church services indoors in the state.
Both the governor and the state were sued by Ahn.
In August 2020, however, a prosecutor from Pasadena threatened the church leadership and community with fines and jail terms of up to a year.
Luckily, the case reached the US Supreme Court.
In a ruling in February 2021, it ruled in favor of Harvest Rock.
In another relevant case, in April 2021, the Supreme Court, in Tandon vs. Newsom, issued an emergency injunction, ruling that Newsom had violated the First Amendment with restrictions targeting home worship and home Bible study.