Please read this article from Liberty Counsel exposing the persecution of the church in America.
Today, I will share portions of the Pasadena, CA, Criminal Prosecutor’s official notice to our clients, Pastor Ché Ahn and Harvest Rock Church, threatening YEARS in prison and daily fines if the church continues to remain open for worship. I will also share Liberty Counsel’s response. Read on to learn how we can defeat the lawless threats to destroy religious freedom.
Liberty Counsel now has five federal lawsuits representing churches and pastors in Maine, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois and California against the illegal, unconstitutional orders of lawless governors.
The facts of our case in Illinois, where city officials threatened to seize and destroy the churches we represent in Chicago, are shocking. However, the recent actions of CA Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Pasadena City Prosecutor have brought a new level of tyranny against faithful Christians in America.
“It has come to the attention of the Pasadena City Prosecutor’s Office that your facility is not operating in compliance with the order of Governor Newsom…. We have information that your church was conducting live indoor church services at the location where anywhere from 50 to 100 people or more attended.”
That’s how the letter to Harvest Rock Chapel in Pasadena began. Issued Thursday, August 13, by the Criminal Division of the Pasadena City Prosecutor’s Office, the letter cited Gov. Newsom’s unconstitutional total ban on worship:
“This letter is to remind you that violation of these orders are criminal in nature. Each day in violation is a separate violation and carries with it a potential punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine for each violation…. Your compliance with these orders is not discretionary, it is mandatory. Any violations in the future will subject your church, owners, administrators, operators, staff and parishioners to the above-mentioned criminal penalties as well as the potential closure of your church.” [emphasis added]
Harvest Rock Church closed in mid-March. Churches are more (at least they should be) than an auditorium where people enjoy music and hear a message. Closing the ministries took a toll on the community. The elderly were isolated, the sick suffered, the children mourned for fellowship and every social ill increased.
Seeking God’s direction, Pastor Ahn knew it was time to reopen. Pentecost Sunday, May 31, was the first in-person worship in months. The joy of fellowship was palpable and moving.
On July 6, Gov. Newsom banned singing and chanting. Then on July 13, he banned ALL WORSHIP, even in private homes. On July 17, Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit.
Since the prosecutor’s letter on August 13, this faithful immigrant pastor, along with the church’s staff, and EVERY parishioner face daily criminal charges, each punishable for up to one year in prison and daily fines.
Liberty Counsel has formally responded to the Pasadena prosecutor reminding the prosecutor of some indisputable facts of constitutional law…
1. Americans have a RIGHT to religious freedom, unencumbered by the demands and edicts of government officials.
The City of Pasadena has no authority to prohibit people from attending church. In fact, the Supreme Court has expressly forbidden such action. The Court’s decision in the 1947 case Everson v. Bd. Of Educ. Of Ewing Twp., 330 U.S. 1, 15 clearly states: “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church . . . Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will.” (emphasis added).
2. Government entities may not discriminate against one constitutionally protected right while promoting another.
The prosecutor’s letter to Harvest Rock Church was particularly appalling because he asserts that the city has been enforcing the governor’s orders against all gatherings in the city. Not true!
As reported with pictures and video by the local and national media, on at least three occasions – June 1, June 6 and June 10 – hundreds, if not thousands, of people gathered in the streets of Pasadena as part of the BLM protests shaking the country. No social distancing or masks were required, let alone enforced. Even when the protestors blocked the expressway on June 1, the city prosecutor issued NO threats of criminal sanctions or enforcement against the protestors.
3. The First Amendment is not just for the state’s favored speech.
The fact of the matter is, NONE of the rights enumerated within our Constitution may be impaired. And just as no government may remove any right enumerated, neither can a government official – even Pasadena’s city prosecutor – show favor to one protected right (the right to peaceably assemble), over another (the right to worship according to one’s conscience).
4. The threat of criminal sanction against only religious adherents is reminiscent of tyrannical regimes, not America. We are a nation birthed with religious freedom.
We stand ready to vindicate the constitutional rights of Harvest Rock Church, Pastor Ché Ahn and all of Harvest Rock Church’s members and congregants in Pasadena’s criminal courts.
We will not stop until religious freedom is FULLY RESTORED.
No pastor or parishioner in America should be forced to make a choice between worshipping in church and sitting in prison.
This fight, which will likely go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, is increasingly expensive. As you know, we never charge for our legal services. Instead, we rely on God’s gracious provision through faithful supporters like you. And now, for a limited time, a challenge grant will effectively DOUBLE the impact of your donation. Please give a generous gift today — your help is needed now. Select here to Defend America’s Churches.
Please be in prayer for Pastor Ché Ahn and each of the brave pastors facing fines, arrest and imprisonment for worshipping God. These Christian servants go to bed each night not knowing if they will be taken from their families, their children and their flocks.
When the disciples were told to stop preaching in the name of Jesus, they replied, “We must obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Writing from a prison in Ephesus, Paul begins one of his letters, “Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus….” (Philemon 1:1). We need such courage today. And the pastors and churches we represent need your daily prayers!
It is an honor for Liberty Counsel to stand with faithful followers of our Lord. Thank you for standing with us!