PASADENA (CBSLA) — Harvest Rock Church is openly defying California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order not to have indoor church services in Los Angeles County amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Service was still held on Sunday at the Pasadena location and during prayer, the lead pastor gave a message specifically to the governor, who they’ve now sued.
“I want us to pray right now that we will win that court case,” said Pastor Che Ahn. “No one is above the constitution. No one is above the law.”
“As a pastor, I believe we’ve been essential for 2,000 years,” Ahn said.
Liberty Counsel, a Florida law firm that defends Evangelical churches, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the church and Harvest International Ministry, which has churches in Pasadena, Corona and Irvine.
The suit claims that Newsom’s order prohibiting indoor services violates their constitutional rights.
“It violates our first amendment rights and you know the state should not establish a religion but also not interfere with the preemptive exercise thereof,” Ahn said.
The suit also alleges that the governor is unfairly targeting places of worship, citing ongoing large protests throughout the county against police brutality.
“I just feel the hypocrisy of encouraging protests. We are all for that but let’s just be consistent,” Ahn said.
Leaders at Harvest Rock Church say that they’ve encouraged parishioners to physically distance, wear face coverings and get their temperatures checked.
One of the concerns health officials had about indoor worship services was that singing may increase the spread of respiratory droplets that could potentially lead to new coronavirus cases.
The governor’s recent order also called for the closure of indoor operations at restaurants, bars, gyms, malls, and other locations in 30 counties statewide, including Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange as officials say coronavirus cases were climbing higher statewide.
The lawsuit is asking for a temporary restraining order that would prevent any enforcement against Harvest Rock Church pending a ruling from a judge. Gov. Newsom’s office has not publicly responded to the lawsuit.