SACRAMENTO—On Tuesday, May 19, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice accused Governor Gavin Newsom of discriminating against churches. The plan to reopen certain counties in California allowed for gatherings in restaurants, shopping malls, and schools, and has been extended to church services. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, churches switched to online services that abide by the social distancing policies.

Assistant Attorney General Dreiband issued a letter urging the governor to end the “unfair burden” and “unequal treatment of faith communities.” Dreiband stated: “Religion and religious worship continue to be central to the lives of millions of Americans.”

Over 1,200 California pastors have taken a stance and insisted on resuming their services for the feast of the Pentecost on May 31. They intend to respect physical distancing at such gatherings. In March, the Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi sued Newsom after refusing the stay-at-home order. After the court sided with Newsom, they’ve made an appeal.

Governor Newsom has yet to issue a statement. He previously stated on May 10, that churches would not be opened until the third stage, which includes cultural ceremonies, entertainment venues, gyms, hair and nail salons.