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August 12, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Amid ongoing tensions over California’s efforts to quash religious assembly across most of the state, one district attorney says he will not enforce Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order on churches in his jurisdiction.
Newsom has banned indoor religious services (along with various types of secular gatherings) in 29 counties representing 80 percent of the state’s population in the name of containing the spread of COVID-19. Numerous churches have defied the order, including Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, Cornerstone Church of Fresno, Destiny Christian Church of Rocklin, and Harvest Rock Church of Pasadena.
In Los Angeles, conflict over the order has intensified to the point that Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti has ordered that power and water be shut off to buildings where “selfish and irresponsible” gatherings continue to take place.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow, however, is taking the opposite approach, he told CBN News.
“I strongly feel that it would be against the interest of justice for us to punish criminally citizens choosing to worship God or whatever religion they have at a time when we are going through a pandemic,” Dow said. “I mean, if anything, we need people to spend more time in their faith seeking help from the Almighty to answer this coronavirus and to protect our communities and our nation.”
San Luis Obispo County is not among the counties Newsom ordered to close but is on a state watch list due to a rise in coronavirus cases officials blame on an “increase in certain community sector perception that the pandemic is not serious.”
“When officials restrict church attendance to a certain number, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the saints to gather as the church,” declared Pastor John MacArthur and the elders of California’s Grace Community Church. “When officials mandate distancing, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible to experience the close communion between believers that is commanded in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In all those spheres, we must submit to our Lord.”
Across the world, many secular authorities have heavily restricted the right to religious assembly over COVID-19, from in-person gathering to singing to the distribution of Holy Communion, even in some cases banning people from gathering in parking lots and worshipping from within their individual cars.