The California based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, with the help of the religious rights law group Liberty Counsel have filed a lawsuit to appeal and challenge California Gov. Newsom's ban on in-person worship services.
Liberty Counsel stated that the lawsuit would appeal "both the total ban on in-person worship (including in private homes) in the counties on the 'County Monitoring List,' and the ban on singing and chanting in the remaining counties." Not only does Harvest Rock seek to reinstate their in-person worship services, but their "Life Groups" (smaller home Bible studies) as well.
Liberty Counsel has argued that while Newsom's laws have banned Church gatherings, he still "continues to encourage thousands of protestors to gather throughout the state." The Pasadena prosecutor has even gone so far as to send a letter to the church and pastor Ché Ahn threatening "daily criminal charges and fines to the pastor, the church, staff and parishioners, saying each criminal charge would be punishable by up to one year in prison."
Liberty Counsel and Pastor Ahn have stated this ban to be unlawful and in direct violation of their first amendment rights of freedom of religion. In a response on his Instagram account, Pastor Ahn stated to his congregation, "If you do show up and get a ticket, Harvest Rock Church is going to underwrite that ticket; we'll pay for your citation. We're really doing a prophetic act here in obedience to what we believe the Holy Spirit is directing us. I've said this a number of times, I'm willing to go to jail for what I believe is my constitutional right and what I believe the Holy Spirit is asking me to do as your pastor." Ahn believes more than ever that the Church is essential to be able to help people get through this pandemic.
Although Ahn and Harvest Rock Church plan on fighting Newsom's orders, they still recognize that certain safety features must be followed. The Church asks its parishioners to follow safe social distancing procedures, to stay home if they are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms, and to wear masks "when entering and exiting the auditorium."