A conservative Christian legal group has called for the mass reopening of churches across the US, as the coronavirus lockdown continues to disrupt weekly service schedules. This week, The Liberty Counsel launched an initiative called ReOpen Church Sunday, which urges churches to open their doors on 3 May, a week before the annual National Day of Prayer.
The group argues that churches are “more essential than ever” and must be reopened with “appropriate measures of sanitization and appropriate social distancing between families.”
According to the official White House guidelines released last week, phase one of the country's reopening - for which there is no set timeline - will permit churches to congregate once again. The document reads: "LARGE VENUES (e.g., sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols."
Many churches have continued to operate despite the restrictions, with a handful of church leaders remaining insistent that the lockdown rules are a violation of their First Amendment rights.
On Wednesday, a Los Angeles judge denied a request by three southern California churches who filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom, challenging his statewide stay-at-home order.
In his ruling, District Judge Jesus Bernal said: “During the state of emergency the executive powers are in effect, in that they are empowered to provide for emergency remedies which may infringe on fundamental constitutional rights."
Responding to the decision, Harmeet Dhillon, National Committeewoman of the Republican National Committee for California and CEO of the Center for American Liberty, said that Americans should "count on more restrictions on all your civil rights in California with no end in sight, if this is the reasoning courts will be applying."