The state of California continues to settle with church buildings over restrictions it imposed on homes of worship throughout the year-long shutdown ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Within the newest spherical of settlements with three church buildings, the state and two counties are paying a complete of $1.3 million in legal professional’s charges.
The state and county of Los Angeles settled with Los Angeles-based Grace Group Church and its pastor, John MacArthur, agreeing to pay its attorneys from Thomas Extra Society $800,000 in charges and prices.
The state and San Joaquin County settled with Cross Tradition Christian Heart (CCCC) of Lodi and its pastor, Jon Duncan, and Cornerstone Church of Fresno, and its pastor, Jim Franklin, agreeing to pay its attorneys from Advocates for Religion & Freedom $500,000.
The settlements got here months after state and federal courts in California issued everlasting injunctions towards the state, prohibiting it and any and all state or native companies from imposing restrictions on homes of worship that weren’t utilized to secular entities.
In Grace Group’s case, the state and Los Angeles County are paying $400,000 every to Thomas Extra Society, totaling $800,000.
Within the instances of CCCC and Cornerstone, the state is paying $400,000 and San Joaquin County is paying $100,000 to Advocates for Religion & Freedom.
The county had focused CCCC, and its landlord, Bethel Open Bible Church’s (BOBC), Advocates for Religion & Freedom stated, “with an outrageously oppressive order to close down your entire church property. BOBC used the San Joaquin County’s illegal order as an excuse to illegally cancel CCCC’s lease and lock the church out of the constructing.”
“After an extended 16-month arduous fought authorized battle, the State and San Joaquin County have lastly been held accountable for abusing their authority below the guise of public well being,” Advocates legal professional Nada Higuera stated in a press release. “It is a monumental victory not only for the church buildings on this case, however for all locations of worship all through California.”
The settlement was reached throughout the church buildings’ Ninth Circuit attraction.
The state of California, Los Angeles County, and metropolis of Los Angeles “unconstitutionally used COVID-19 as a pretext to aim to power church buildings to shut indefinitely,” Thomas Extra Society stated. Town had issued a cease-and-desist order, threatening Grace Group and MacArthur with every day fines of $1,000 or arrest after they selected to not shut their doorways in response to Newsom’s order issued in March. In August 2020, Grace sued the state and the county.
The county additionally sought to have MacArthur held in contempt of court docket and withdrew the church’s 45-year-old car parking zone lease. The cancellation of the lease was rescinded as a part of the settlement.
Thomas Extra Society legal professional Jenna Ellis stated of Grace Group’s settlement, “The church is crucial. Spiritual liberty and the Structure gained as we speak towards the overbroad, arbitrary, indeterminate, and clearly unconstitutional mandates from Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County.”
The settlements observe three earlier settlements California agreed to earlier this 12 months with three different Christian ministries.
In Might, the state agreed to pay $1.35 million in legal professional charges and prices in a settlement with Harvest Rock Church, represented by Liberty Counsel. In June, the state agreed to pay $2.15 million in legal professional charges and prices to Thomas Extra Society, who sued on behalf of South Bay United Pentecostal Church and Father Trevor Burfitt and his ministries in two separate instances.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court docket and California Superior Court docket had dominated towards Newsom months earlier, homes of worship nonetheless fought restrictions within the courts.
By April 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court docket famous that its ruling was “the fifth time the Court docket has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s evaluation of California’s COVID restrictions on spiritual train,” as a result of neither the Ninth Circuit nor Newsom had complied with its orders.
A number of Calvary Chapel instances are nonetheless pending in numerous counties in northern and southern California.