California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in his official capacity, has been ordered to pay $1.35 million in a settlement reached earlier this month with Harvest Rock Church after its congregation was banned from worshipping by the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The settlement amount, reached in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, is to recoup the Los Angeles-area church’s attorney costs and fees in the lawsuit brought against Newsom’s administration last summer, which eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in February. In a 6-3 ruling, the court decided the church could allow 200 worshippers inside but said bans against singing and chanting could remain.
According to Pasadena Now, the state is also no longer allowed to impose discriminatory restrictions upon houses of worship.
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a Christian nonprofit law firm that represented Harvest Rock, called Newsom the “worst governor in America” for religious liberty, according to the Washington Examiner.
“After nearly a yearlong battle defending our religious freedoms, our lawsuit has reached a permanent settlement in our favor,” the Reverend Ché Ahn, founder of the church, said in a statement, according to the Patch. “I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California.”