Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been ordered to pay $1.35 million in legal fees as part of a settlement reached with Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church over coronavirus lockdown orders he issued last year.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement filed earlier this month, California is barred from placing any pandemic restrictions on worship services that are more severe than ones imposed on other gatherings.
“According to the permanent injunction, churches and places of worship may never again have discriminatory restrictions placed on them that are not equally applied to a long list of ‘critical infrastructure’ or ‘essential services’ as outlined in several Supreme Court precedents cited in the settlement,” CBN News reported.
In July, Harvest Rock’s senior pastor Ché Ahn chose to disregard a Newsom order which shut down over 90 percent of indoor church services in California.
Ahn sued the governor and the state, arguing the church’s First Amendment rights were being violated.
In August, a Pasadena prosecutor threatened Harvest Rock’s leadership and members with fines and up to a year of jail time.
Ahn’s case eventually made its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 6-3 in the church’s favor in February. The court said Harvest Rock and other churches had the right to hold worship services, but regulations on singing and chanting could stay in place, Pasadena Now reported.
However, in April, Newsom lifted attendance limits and the statewide ban on singing following a Supreme Court decision to grant a relief petition requested by another church that sued the California governor.
Ahn celebrated the May 14 settlement agreement.
“This is a momentous day for churches in America! After nearly a yearlong battle defending our religious freedoms, our lawsuit has reached a permanent settlement in our favor,” Ahn told CBN News.
“I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California, knowing this case will act as a precedent, not only in our state but also in our nation,” he added.
“We are incredibly grateful to our attorney Mat Staver and to Liberty Counsel for their relentless support and fierce determination. Most of all, we give all the glory to God for moving mightily in this historic season!”
Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver also rejoiced at the news.
“Gov. Gavin Newsom has now been permanently quarantined and may not violate the First Amendment rights of churches and places of worship again,” Staver said.
“We are grateful for Pastor Ché Ahn, Harvest Rock Church, and Harvest International Ministry. Pastor Ahn’s leadership and courage has toppled the tyranny and freed every pastor and church in California.”
This article appeared originally on Patriot Project.
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