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When the laws are unjust, sometimes the only thing you can do is defy them.
For some reason, there seems to be no problem with hundreds of people all in the same Home Depot or Lowes store shopping for 2x4s, but those same people going to church?
Isn't that odd.
According to new reports, a network of 3,000 pastors and churches are finally saying enough is enough and they're set to defy the Governor's order if necessary.
Check this out:
Here are more details, from CBN:
Nearly 500 California pastors are preparing to open their doors on Sunday, May 31st - whether or not they have guidance from the state.
"The churches are not asking for permission," said Bob Tyler, a religious freedom attorney advising the pastors. "The governor is sitting here as a dictator, trumping the Constitution and is kind of hanging on to this state of emergency for as long as he can hold it."
Tyler says the pastors, including Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, Matt Brown of Sandals Church in Riverside, and Danny Carroll of Water of Life Community Church in Fontana, have signed a petition and plan to advise Gov. Gavin Newsom of their plans which include social distancing.
"We'll give the governor an opportunity to amend his order," said Tyler. "If he doesn't, these pastors have told me that they're committed to opening regardless of what the governor decides."
Right now, Newsom has relegated churches to stage 3 of the state's re-opening plan, which could be weeks or months from now.
Starting today, Newsom is allowing the opening of "lower risk" workplaces like clothing stores, florists, and sporting goods stores under stage 2 of his plan.He's bolstered by a federal judge's decision in Sacramento this week. Judge John Mendez ruled that Newsom has the right to temporarily ban church gatherings for the sake of public health.
But the California pastors are arguing that there's public health reasons for reopening churches.
Pastor Brown says his church has called thousands of its attendees and found that many are struggling. "We have all kinds of emotional issues that are going on. We have marital issues in our church. We're seeing a spike in depression, suicide, drug addiction," he said in a video posted on the church website.
Dr. John Jackson, the president of William Jessup University, a Christian college outside of Sacramento, says people of faith need a human connection right now. "The presence of God matters, but touch matters," he said. "I love technology but it is not a replacement for physical presence and I think we can do so with social distancing."
Jackson said he disagrees with governments prioritizing businesses before churches. "I find it very inappropriate that I can go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread and be with all other kinds of people. I can go to the hardware store and get my supplies for my home maintenance but I cannot go to a church," he said.
Judge Mendez pushed back against that idea in his ruling, saying that shoppers going to a business to buy a specific item is different from churchgoers communing together.
Dr. Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says he's been pleased to see that most churches nationwide have complied with public health guidance during the crisis.
"I think that's the real story here is how well congregations and governments have been working together so far," he told CBN News.
He encouraged churches to work with their local health authorities to make decisions about reopening.
But he also warned that government must view churches as essential. "I don't think that churches should be treated differently because they're churches," he said. "The issue has to be safety and so you have some areas where churches are treated in a different category that sees churches as less essential than other means of gathering. I think that's a real mistake."
Tyler says most of the California churches that reopen May 31st will allow 25 or 30 percent capacity. Some, he says, may use a reservation system and when one service fills up they will add another.
Pastor Hibbs told CBN News that he wants to follow Romans 13 and obey the government. "I don't want to blow our witness," he said.
But he's eager to gather people for worship and be able to minister in person to the sick and dying. He's also mindful that state and local governments may impose a new round of restrictions in the fall.
"We've got to get out and get our world back before the next flu season starts next winter," he said.
Fox News reports the number is closer to 3,000 churches:
California Church United pastors announced Thursday in front of a Fontana megachurch that they plan to open May 31, instead of waiting until stage 3, when gyms, movie theaters, and other venues open, the San Bernardino County Sun reports.
Danny Carroll, senior pastor at Water of Life Community Church in Fontana, California, argues that churches should reopen during phase 2 of the governor's plan to reopen the state. (Church United)
May 31 was chosen because it is Pentecost, marking the birth of the Christian Church when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and followers of Jesus, according to Christian tradition, fitting for a "rebirth" of services.
“Our churches are part of the answer, not part of the problem,” said Danny Carroll, senior pastor at Water of Life Community Church. “We're an essential part of this whole journey and we've been bypassed ... kicked to the curb and deemed nonessential."
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that Newsom had the right to ban churches from opening during the coronavirus outbreak, following a lawsuit from Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi.
Newsom, after meeting with religious leaders Thursday, acknowledged the work of the faith community, helping the homeless, seniors, and children. He said he might allow them to reopen earlier than expected.
“Our fear is simply this,” Newsom said, “congregations of people from far and wide coming together in a closed space at a large scale remains a point of concern and anxiety for us. We are working on guidelines for physical distancing and working with faith leaders talking about unique conditions in their own facilities. Nothing is etched in stone.”
Matt Brown, pastor of Sandals Church in Riverside, blasted Newsom for deeming churches nonessential during the pandemic: "We are torn between caring for and loving our people and his order.
"He didn't ask us. He overstepped and he's overreached," Brown said. "And he needs to step back and he needs to declare that the church is an essential part of what we do as Americans, as what we do as Californians.
Matt Brown, pastor of Sandals Church in Riverside, blasted Newsom for deeming churches nonessential during the pandemic. (Church United)
"We have a pastor in the south, in Chula Vista feeding hungry people a mile long in cars, socially distancing," said Jim Doman, pastor and founder of Church United. "How can the church not be essential?
"It's the heart of Jesus to love and care for all people. The heart of God supersedes government."
Eli Loera, pastor of Family Christian Assembly in Fresno, told Fox News Newsom has "ignored" the churches as they continue to run food ministries, counsel, pay rents for the need, and provide other services.
Pastor Eli Loera of Family Christian Assembly in Fresno, Calif., spoke in Spanish, urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen churches earlier than expected. (Church United)
Carroll "wants to cooperate with the state" as part of phase 2 and believes the churches are ready to "roll out, no matter what. That said, we are not trying to be rebels or activists here."
Church leaders said they are upset by being lumped in with sports leagues.
“We are not the MLB or the NBA,” Carroll added. “We are not a gathering of strangers. As pastors, we bury these people. We bleed with these people. We are a family, not a group of strangers.”
But some churches already have begun to meet in person, including the 412 Church in Murreitta and a sister congregation in San Jacinto, the Orange County Register reports.