FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno County will pursue a lawsuit against the state over the rules houses of worship must follow to reopen, following a 3-2 vote by its Board of Supervisors.
Until then, supervisors voted to force churches to follow the state’s guidelines including operating at 25% capacity or a maximum of 100 worshipers, whichever is less.
“I am disappointed because the faith community does a lot to keep our society together,” said Supervisor Steve Brandau. “We are in a crisis and people are in a lot of pain. Mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.”
People’s Church does not plan to open with the limited capacity restriction.
“That really means for us,” said Executive Pastor at People’s Church Brad Liebe. “We will not be able to open with the normal Sundays as we have had.”
Cornerstone Church Pastor Jim Franklin called the measures unconstitutional.
“You have to keep a level playing field,” said Franklin. “If you allow restaurants at 50% capacity, why would you not allow churches at 50%? Otherwise, you are discriminating against churches because of the content of their speech.”
“If it is appropriate for us,” said Supervisor Nathan Magsig. “We may need to file a federal lawsuit to protect, provide more liberties, and freedoms to our places of worship here in Fresno County.”
Fresno County’s interim public health officer Dr. Rais Vohra standing with the state’s metrics and those of the CDC, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The CDC has described several outbreaks where singing and recitation was involved and probably let to outbreaks,” said Dr. Vohra. “Because singing actually lets you aerosolize those droplets much father than talking to someone would.”
Health officials will revisit the issue in three weeks to see if cases increase or decrease.