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Court denies Chula Vista church's request to reopen for Christmas Day service

South Bay Pentecostal Church
Posted at 7:18 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 10:17:44-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an emergency injunction for a Chula Vista church to hold Christmas Day services indoors.

South Bay United Pentecostal Church, which has had legal challenges denied over California's COVID-19 restrictions against places of worship holding indoor services, requested the injunction while its appeals case works its way through the courts.

Thursday, the Ninth Circuit denied the request but the case will see a full hearing on the merits on January 15, 2021.

RELATED: Los Angeles County change on indoor religious services could impact South Bay lawsuit

"We are extremely disappointed that the Ninth Circuit has yanked the joy of Christmas away from South Bay United Pentecostal Church and its congregants," Charles LiMandri, one of the attorneys representing the church, said in a statement.

LiMandri said they will request that the U.S. Supreme Court intervene in the case. The country's highest court has already ruled in favor of religious institutions in a New York case, prompting Los Angeles County to amend their public health order to allow for indoor religious services under certain modifications.

“By refusing to allow South Bay to participate in the worldwide celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the court is continuing to perpetuate the violations of religious liberty that Governor Newsom has been executing for nine months under the guise of COVID-19 prevention,” said LiMandri.

California's regional stay-at-home order prohibits indoor operations across several industries, including churches and places of religion.

South Bay United Pentecostal Church has argued against the state's restrictions since May. Senior Pastor Arthur Hodges told ABC 10News that they're prepared to go above and beyond current coronavirus-related precautions once they reopen.