Despite orders to close the doors to his church, pastor Jon Duncan of Cross Culture Christian Center said that he’d still be inviting his congregation out to celebrate Easter Sunday, KCRA-TV reports.
“We don’t believe that a virus cancels the First Amendment,” he told the broadcast station.
According to KTTV, Duncan said the orders to shut down violated his freedom to assemble. His landlord, Bethel Open Bible Church, decided to change the locks.
“It’s property and they are ultimately responsible for it,” Lodi Police Lt. Michael Manetti told the broadcast station. “ did have the locks changed.”
Duncan previously said that he intended on allowing his congregation to meet as often as possible, and said this right is “protected by the First Amendment and should be considered essential,” per KTXL-TV.
On Sunday, a group of congregants attempted to go to the church but discovered they’d been locked out.
“I’m not thrilled in general with the restriction on religious liberties,” Duncan’s brother Jeremy told KTTV. “Especially during what is Christian’s most holy week.”
The Los Angeles Times says the church has retained a lawyer from a Christian nonprofit called the National Center for Law & Policy.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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