More than 1,200 pastors in California are vowing to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom's order and hold in-person church services before the end of the month.
The Guardian reported that the clergymen signed a "declaration of essentiality" ahead of a planned May 31 opening of their churches despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney Robert Tyler said, "This letter was not sent for the purposes of asking for permission."
Tyler noted that 3,000 churches could hold Sunday services on May 31 as part of the effort. If the churches do open, they would observe social distancing and use other steps in an effort to keep parishioners safe.
On Friday, President Donald Trump ordered all governors to allow houses of worship to reopen "right now" and threatened to "override" them if they refuse.
"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It's not right," Trump said.
Earlier this week, the Department of Justice said Newsom is discriminating against churches by not allowing them to hold in-person services as part of the state's second phase of reopening.
California has seen more than 90,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,600 deaths.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.