Bible studies

Santa Clara Bible Study Group Wins Supreme Court Battle for Home Gatherings – CBS San Francisco

WASHINGTON (CBS SF / AP) – In a case involving a Santa Clara County Bible study group, the United States Supreme Court on Friday night told California health officials they could not enforce the coronavirus-related restrictions that have limited home worship religions, including Bible studies and prayer meetings.

The plaintiffs in the case were: Ritesh Tandon; Karen Busch; Terry Gannon; Carolyn Gannon; Jérémy Wong; Julie Evarkiou; Dhruv Khanna; Connie Richards; Frances Beaudit and Maya Mansour.

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The court order on Friday night is the latest in a recent string of cases in which the High Court has banned officials from applying certain coronavirus-related restrictions on religious gatherings.

Five Tory justices have agreed California’s restrictions on home church gatherings should be lifted for now, while the court’s three liberals and Chief Justice John Roberts have not.

However, California has already announced significant changes easing restrictions on gatherings that go into effect on April 15. The changes come after infection rates in the condition drop.

The case before the judges involved California rules that, in most states, limit social gatherings indoors to no more than three households. Participants are required to wear masks and to physically distance themselves from each other. Different restrictions apply to locations, including schools, grocery stores, and churches.

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“California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than home religious exercise,” allowing hair salons, retail stores, and movie theaters, among others, “to bring together more than three households at a time,” the unsigned order from the court said. A lower court “did not find that these activities presented a lower risk of transmission than the religious exercise offered by the plaintiffs at home,” he said.

The court acknowledged that California’s policy on rallies would change next week, but said restrictions remained in place until then and “officials with a proven track record in” moving the goalposts “remained in power. to reinstate these increased restrictions at any time “.

Judge Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent for herself and her fellow Liberals Judge Stephen Breyer and Judge Sonia Sotomayor that the majority of the court was undermining the ability of state officials to cope with an emergency public health.

“California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households. While the state also restricts all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment. And the state is doing just that: It has enacted a blanket restriction on home gatherings of all kinds, religious and secular. California doesn’t need to… treat home church gatherings the same as hardware stores and hair salons, ”she wrote. She added that “the law does not require the state to also process apples and watermelons.”

The court has dealt with a series of cases in which religious groups have challenged restrictions on coronaviruses impacting worship services. While at the start of the pandemic, the court sided with state officials against the objection of religious groups, that changed after the death of Liberal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg last September and her replacement. by Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

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In November, the High Court banned New York from enforcing certain limits on church and synagogues attendance in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. And in February, the High Court told California it could not ban religious services indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic, although it has upheld the ban on singing and to sing inside.


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