LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Pasadena-based church was denied a motion Monday to get a federal judge to put a temporary hold on a controversial order by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to ban singing and chanting in places of worship as a means of fighting COVID-19.

Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has campuses in Pasadena, Irvine and Corona, filed a motion Saturday asking for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction on the governor’s statewide ban, saying it violates the First Amendment and the “cherished liberties for which so many have fought and died.”

In his ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright said Harvest Rock failed to provide notice to Newsom of either its lawsuit or motion for a TRO, and fell short of the requirements to obtain an emergency TRO without notice.

The judge gave the state until Aug. 3 to file a response.

The state Department of Public Health recently issued guidelines through Newsom prohibiting any singing or chanting indoors due to fears that it increases the spread of respiratory droplets and the risk of
spreading COVID-19.

According to Harvest Rock, state health guidelines unfairly target places of worship over other institutions because Newsom publicly supported mass protests over George Floyd’s in-custody death and police brutality – including ones that involved public chanting – during the pandemic.

“The governor cannot claim a compelling, legitimate or even rational interest in his orders when he has permitted and encouraged mass gatherings of thousands of protesters to engage in the very activity he claims poses a massive danger to California if it takes place in plaintiff’s churches,” according to the complaint.

Failure to assemble as a church for religious worship services “is disobedience to the Lord for which (the church) will be held divinely accountable,” Harvest Rock said.

Three other churches filed a similar lawsuit in April against the governor and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

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