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DOJ warns Governor Newsom over orders restricting church services

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Pastor Rob Goodwin and his staff Our Savior’s Church in Palm Springs welcomed the letter the Department of Justice sent to Governor Newsom Tuesday, pressuring the Governor to allow houses of worship to reopen while still practicing safety measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

“We need to get back to worship just like everybody else.  We need to get back together.  People are desperately hurting and want to get together,” said Goodwin.   

While wanting to reopen, Goodwin says he and his board do not have plans to reopen for services ahead of any orders by the state or county government clearing them do so.

The pastor wants the church to do what they can to protect everyone’s health.

“But at the same time we have a desire to get back and I do have a concern with civil liberties and what happens when everything else is opening and we are being told we can’t,” said Goodwin.

While Goodwin’s sanctuary will remain closed for the indefinite future others will soon open. 

There is a growing list of congregations around the state who are planning to reopen for services on May 31st regardless of government orders. 

A “Declaration of Essentiality for Churches” is an online registry hosted by a Murrieta law firm.

We’re told more than 1,200 California clergy members have signed saying they will open their churches on the 31st.

The list is not yet public and the law firm won’t confirm if any Coachella Valley churches are participating. 

Monsignor Howard Lincoln at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert says his church and the Diocese of San Bernardino will continue following state and county orders.

”We are focused more on what we need to open safely rather than our constitutional rights to reopen,” said Lincoln. 

Governors Newsom's press aide acknowledged the Governor received the letter from the Department of Justice.

The Governor's office would not comment on the letter.

Rabbi Steven Rosenberg at Temple Isaiah in Palm Springs says his congregation will continue to follow guidelines from the CDC and the state and county.

Saleh Saleh, the President of the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley says his community will continue to follow state and county guidelines.

Last Sunday, Senior Pastor Jason Duff told his congregation the church will not open on May 31st.

The Bridge Calvary Chapel in Cathedral City will not open on May 31st, according to Pastor Mike Scott.

A representative for Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells would not comment.  

California / Coronavirus / News Headlines / Top Stories

Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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