Governor Gavin Newsom Must Pay Huge Settlement in California Church Case

May 27, 2021

Pastors and churches in California that suffered under heavy government-imposed COVID restrictions for more than a year now have relief. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been ordered to pay $1.35 million in a settlement reached in May over a lawsuit with California churches.

Ché Ahn, senior pastor of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry in California, and Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, appeared on “FOX & Friends” on May 27, 2021, to discuss the settlement and how it impacts all churches in the state.

Under the terms of the settlement, Newsom’s administration can no longer impose such restrictions on churches and others houses of worship.
Liberty Counsel represented Harvest Rock Church of Pasadena and Harvest International Ministry.

"The church stayed open [during the lockdown], and the pastor and parishioners were threatened with daily criminal charges that were up to a year in prison," Staver said.
The settlement will repay attorney costs and fees in the lawsuit Liberty Counsel filed against Newsom’s administration last summer.

"After nearly a yearlong battle defending our religious freedoms, our lawsuit has reached a permanent settlement in our favor," Pastor Ché said in a statement. "I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California."

Gov. Newsom considered churches “nonessential” and ordered a strict lockdown. In May 2020, the state amended the restrictions to allow 25% capacity in churches as long as the number of people didn’t exceed 100.

The case progressed to the U.S. Supreme Court in February. In a 6-3 decision, the High Court said the church could allow 200 worshippers inside but bans against singing and chanting could remain.

The settlement comes on the heels of a 5-4 Supreme Court decision last month that said California couldn't limit indoor, at-home religious gatherings.

In April 2021, however, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4, finding that Gov. Newsom’s restrictions on home Bible study and worship violate the First Amendment.

“California may never again place discriminatory restrictions on churches and places of worship,” said Staver, adding, “Pastor Ahn’s leadership and courage has toppled the tyranny and freed every pastor and church in California.”


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