Despite state guidelines, Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church on Tuesday filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for an injunction pending appeal in their federal lawsuit against Governor Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus restrictions.
The injunction would allow the church to meet indoors, which the church has continuously done in spite of state guidelines ordering that churches in Los Angeles County, and other counties in the state’s most restrictive tier on the four-tiered blueprint for reopening business sectors, meet outdoors only with modifications.
On Oct. 1, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Newsom’s restrictions on indoor worship during the pandemic, including indoor singing and chanting.
“It is the goal of Harvest Rock Church to protect the first amendment constitutional rights of the church and all people, while taking a specific stand against the misclassification of the worship of God as non-essential during this time of national unrest, economic strife, and physical ailment,” reads an official statement from the church.
Now, Harvest Rock Church is seeking more divine intervention within the Supreme Court.
“Harvest Rock Church has received letters from the Planning and Community Development Department, Code Enforcement Division, for the City of Pasadena and from the Pasadena Office of the City Attorney/City Prosecutor, Criminal Division, threatening up to 1 year in prison, daily criminal charges and $1,000 fines against the pastors, church, governing board, staff, and parishioners, which includes a threat to close the church,” according to a statement published Wednesday by Liberty Counsel, which represents Harvest Rock Church.
In August, Pasadena’s chief assistant city prosecutor, Michael Dowd, warned church leaders that continued defiance would leave church staff and owners subject to criminal penalties and might result in the church closing.
“Your compliance with these orders is not discretionary, it is mandatory,” Dowd wrote in a letter to Harvest Rock Church Pastor Ché Ahn.