More than 1,200 pastors say they will challenge California state order and resume services in person

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More than 1,200 pastors in California have signed a petition who says they will resume in-person services starting May 31. This would challenge the state residence order, which was issued to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.
“We believe you are trying to act in the best interest of the state, but the restrictions have gone too far and for too long,” attorney Robert Tyler, who represents the pastors and the thousands of churches and ministries they lead, written in a letter a California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
According to Newsom’s current plan, churches would be allowed to reopen in phase 3. But the state is currently in the early part of its phase 2 road map to reopen. Newsom has been under increasing pressure from faith-based institutions to reopen.

“In order to restore the right balance between public safety and individual freedoms, the clergy we represent have declared their intention to start holding church services in person starting Sunday, May 31, 2020,” says the letter. “All services will be held in accordance with the CDC and state guidelines for social distancing as required by” essential businesses “.”

He asked at the center of the reopening of the debate in the United States

The petition comes a few days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published detailed guidelines pages on how to reopen the United States. The guidelines reportedly sparked an internal debate between the CDC and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to which religious organizations were unfairly targeted in a first draft.

Houses of worship were ultimately not included as part of the guidelines.

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On Wednesday, President Kellyanne Conway’s senior adviser said the administration was still working with the CDC on guidelines for those institutions.

President Donald Trump, speaking more generally on Thursday, said that one of the things he wants to do to “normalize” life in the United States is “to open churches”.

“Churches are not treated with respect by many democratic governors,” said Trump. “I want to open our churches, and soon we will take a very strong position.”

It also comes a day after the Justice Department sent Newsom a letter warning him that the state’s plan to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic discriminated against churches.

In a letter to Newsom, the head of the Department of Civil Rights of the Department of Justice wrote that the reopening plan, which allows for a return to restaurants and shopping malls before religious services, contained “a pronounced unequal treatment of faith communities “which could clash with the first amendment.

“The Justice Department does not try to impose how states like California determine what degree of activity and personal interaction should be allowed to protect the safety of their citizens,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “However, we are accused of supporting the Constitution and federal legal protections for civil rights.”

“Whatever the level of restrictions you adopt, these civil rights protections require equal treatment of people and activities of a secular and religious nature,” he added.

A Northern California church pastor who ran a live streaming service on Mother's Day tested positive for coronavirus
The letter was reported for the first time from the Wall Street Journal and Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.
More than half of counties across California are advancing with plans to reopen their economy, despite data showing that the state experienced the second highest number of daily coronavirus deaths on Tuesday.

According to the Johns Hopkins University case count in the United States, there are at least 1,551,853 coronavirus cases in the United States and at least 93,439 people have died in the United States from coronavirus.

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California currently has at least 85,997 coronavirus cases and 3,497 deaths.

CNN’s David Shortell, Deborah Bloom, Nick Valencia, Jason Hoffman, Caroline Kelly and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.


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