Seal of the Governor and photo of Gavin Newsom courtesy of the Office of the Governor of the State of California.

California Department of Public Health publishes guidelines for places of worship

This morning — on a national holiday! — the California Department of Public Health published a thirteen-page document: COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services and Cultural Ceremonies (pdf).

I hate to break it to those running the State of California, but places of worship and providers of religious services do not constitute just another industry. They are Constitutionally protected, even from over-reaching State electeds and bureaucrats who think they know what’s best.

From the Overview (page 2):

Precise information about the number and rates of COVID-19 by industry or occupational groups, including among critical infrastructure workers, is not available at this time. There have been multiple outbreaks in a range of workplaces, indicating that workers are at risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19 infection. Examples of these workplaces include places of worship, long-term care facilities, prisons, food production, warehouses, meat processing plants, and grocery stores.

(Emphasis added.)

One type of workplace in the emphasized list is not like the others: places of worship are protected by the United States Constitution. In other words, Governor Newsom cannot Constitutionally order the closure of a single Catholic Church (for instance) in the Diocese of Orange. Bishop Kevin Vann can issue such an order, after due reflection on the dangers posed by COVID-19 to his flock. The same holds true for rabbis, pastors, elders, and imams and the groups they lead.

The entire tenor of the document is that “places of worship” are just another sort of industry with “staff” and “visitors” or “congregants.”

Unruly industry members who insist on in-person activities must go above and beyond the already-common six-foot social distrancing:

Places of worship must therefore limit attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. This limitation will be in effect for the first 21-days of a county public health department’s approval of religious services and cultural ceremonies activities at places of worship within their jurisdictions.

Furthermore, if you attend in-person services, you must be screened:

Congregants/visitors should be screened for temperature and/or symptoms upon arrival to places of worship and asked to use hand sanitizer and to wear face coverings.

No specific guidance is given on a temperature threshold that locks you out of church services, nor on which symptoms a greeter must watch for.

And, no, you aren’t allowed baptisms, weddings, or funerals:

Discontinue large gatherings that encourage congregants/visitors to travel and break physical distances during activities, such as concerts, large holiday and life event celebrations and remembrances.

Read the entire document and realize that the State of California is overstepping its Constitutional authority. Again, for example, Bishop Vann may issue directives after due consideration for the safety of his flock. Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health may not.

3 Comments

  1. Itscup to ee the people if we want to attend a church that is at full capacity, not burecrats
    Or politicians, pretending to only be concerner abought our health. We will worry about oir health, thank you we the people you work for us, remimber.

  2. I think it is up to our Bishop and the individual pastors to decide what is safe! Not all churches are the same size so a limit of 100 people is ludicrous! You could get 250 people in our church spaced 12 feet apart and it would still look empty! I’m sick and tired of being shut out of the one place that gives me comfort and hope! our pastor has arranged to have hand sanitizer available, we will no longer hold hands during the Our Father and the communal cup has been eliminated along with the choir! What more do they want?

  3. No problem me will keep me from attending my house of worship! The constitution gives me that right! This whole virus thing is way for the government to take over our lives. Just read your history books on Germany snd Hitler. The Jews walked right into those conssintatation camps. I will not go easy

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