Drive-in churches now legal in California thanks to lawsuit victory

“But, it’s problematic because going to church still isn’t considered essential” – Attorney Harmeet Dhillon

By Allen Payton

A victory, Friday in a lawsuit on freedom of worship is forcing California to allow drive-in church services.

The lawsuit against the State of California naming Governor Gavin Newsom over his executive order, was filed by San Francisco attorney Harmeet Dhillon, founder of the non-profit Center for American Liberty and co-counsel Mark Meuser, on behalf of three southern California churches and one parishioner. (See related article)

According to twitter posts by Dhillon, a government brief filed late (Friday) morning claimed that “drive in” is a “technology” like streaming video, and now OK. In response to this executive order “clarification” by opposition brief, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties update(d) their health decrees to allow drive-in worship.

“This development is a partial victory in our lawsuit, but it still does not allow in-building services – meaning people seeking spiritual guidance and fellowship safely, are given no right to do so but the same people can visit wine, pot, food, laundry shops with a mask legally,” she tweeted.

“We continue to wait for ruling on TRO (temporary restraining order),” Dhillon continued. “People of faith may be treated no less favorably than any other people in California. Reporters, termite guys, tree trimmers, baristas, stir-fry chefs, grocery workers, and customers of all have rights – so do religious leaders & followers!”

She was asked why this applies to the entire state, when she was only representing the three churches and one parishioner in Southern California.

“But I sued the State of California over the statewide order, and the counties,” she explained.

The place where the so-called policy changes were announced are hidden in the ruling, with the state agreeing that “of course drive-in churches are a technology like streaming video,” Dhillon shared. “You and I both know that’s absurd. But, it’s problematic, because going to church still isn’t considered essential.”

There’s no requirement for the state to publicize the court’s decision.

“It’s sneaky,” she said.

Asked about her clients Dhillon said, “I’m only representing those who are socially responsible, like anyone else.”

According to their website, “The Center for American Liberty defends the Free Speech rights and Civil Liberties of Americans.”

“The non-profit hired my firm to represent the plaintiffs,” she explained.

The decision was handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, which also includes Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

“I’m glad we were able to do this. This is a small thing,” Dhillon added. “You’re probably not going to see a lot of drive-in churches in the next week or two. But, it’s better than nothing, dressing up, driving in and seeing your friends.”

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