In California, you may now resume in-person bible studies, prayer meetings, and worship services. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

On 4/9/21, the Supreme Court told the state of California for the fifth time that the Free Exercise of Religion clause of the First Amendment actually, really, truly does allow free exercise of religion. Oh yeah, the injunction mentioned this was the fifth injunction against the unconstitutional state rules.

On 4/12/21, attorneys from the Thomas More Society called state officials, according to a press release from Thomas More Society, wanting to confirm a telephone call at 1 PM that day to discuss the next round of the South Bay United Pentecostal Church lawsuit against the state. An evidentiary hearing had been scheduled sometime in May.

According to the press release, attorneys for the church asked if the state was going to allow worship at 100% capacity. If not, the church would proceed to the hearing which would “inevitably result in the 6th rebuke from SCOTUS.”

The reply from the California Attorney General was to say that the state guidelines had been revised, effective 4/12/21.

I checked the state’s website for guidance by industry, which you can find here.

Scroll down to “Places of worship and cultural ceremonies – updated April 12, 2021.” After observing the 4/12/21 update comment, please click on the orange plus sign on the right side of the screen.

Sure enough, you will find the following comment:

“In response to recent judicial rulings, effective immediately, location and capacity limits on places of worship are not mandatory but are strongly recommended. The linked guidance is in the process of being updated. All other restrictions in the guidance remain in place.”

At the moment, the recommendations for purple/ red/ orange/ yellow tiers are the same as they were before. When infection rate in a county drops below one per 100,000 and the positivity test rate is below 2%, the recommended capacity is still 50%. Message from the state is that until coronavirus disappears from the earth (or the state removes the color-coding system on June 15 entirely out of its benevolence to us mere peasants ) a place of worship can only be occupied to 50%.

So, effective 4/12/21 the state restrictions are no longer required but merely recommended.

You may resume worshiping in the way you see fit and with restrictions you consider appropriate. You now have freedom to decide how to exercise your religious freedom.

Bottom line: for the moment at least, the State of California will again recognize the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.


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