Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2021 / 13:49 pm
California’s coronavirus restrictions on home-based religious gatherings like Bible studies, worship and prayer meetings were more strict than the constitution allows, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a 5-4 court order late Friday.
Citing an appeals court decision in a different case, the unsigned majority’s court order said the state cannot “assume the worst when people go to worship but assume the best when people go to work.”
California had said its restrictions on social gatherings was “entirely neutral.” Its current coronavirus mitigation rules have limited indoor social gatherings to no more than three households, and attendees must wear masks and keep physical distance from each other.
These rules were challenged by Rev. Jeremy Wong and Karen Busch, two residents of Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They wanted to host small, in-person Bible studies in their homes, the Associated Press said. In the case known as Tandon v. Newsom, they objected that the limits interfered with their free exercise of religion.