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Senator Jones introduces measure to declare religious services as essential

The right to worship is a constitutionally-protected right


Last updated 2/17/2021 at 1:47pm

SACRAMENTO – Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee) introduced Senate Bill 397‚ a measure which would classify religious services as an essential activity during a declared state of emergency and ensure that the government does not take any discriminatory actions against religious organizations.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees religious freedom and the right to peaceably assemble. However, since Governor Newsom first declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19, many of his executive actions have consistently included prohibitions on the operation of religious services.

Despite the fact that all Americans hold a right to the free exercise of religion, California has placed more stringent restrictions on religious services than on other industries they have deemed essential.

SB 397 requires the Governor and local governments to treat religious services as an essential service during any declared state of emergency and prohibits the state from discriminating against any religious organizations. Furthermore‚ SB 397 requires any burden placed on religious organizations to be the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest.

This bill ensures that religious organizations are treated fairly and allowed to operate within the same restrictions placed upon other essential services, while still allowing room for the government to set safety parameters to further public health needs.

The bill is co-sponsored by the California Family Council, California Resource Institute‚ Judeo-Christian Caucus, and Real Impact. It is supported by Alliance Defending Freedom‚ Calvary Chapel Chino Hills‚ and the Salt & Light Council.

If you’d like to weigh-in with your support of SB 397‚ send an email from


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