When California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced his reopening plan for the state it was broken into four phases. The state is moving to phase two on Friday of this week. That means that a number of “low-risk businesses” will be able to reopen provided they put a variety of precautions into place. Not included on the list of low-risk businesses were the churches. They’re slated for phase three which could still be weeks or even months away. That has led one Pastor in Riverside to send an urgent request to the governor to reconsider his classification scheme. Will the governor be moved to show some compassion in this case? (CBS Los Angeles)

According to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to reopen the state, opening places of worship falls under Phase 3 of California’s reopening plan, which could still be months away.

Sandals Church in Riverside, led by Pastor Dan Zimbardi, is calling on the governor to reconsider.

“We’re asking you to take a look at our plan,” he said.

The church believes they can safely open their doors to parishioners much sooner by mandating masks, taking temperatures and seating everyone six feet apart.

The Pastor is being considerably more polite than seems to be called for, which is understandable I suppose. But how the churches didn’t make it on the phase two list is just crazy. They’re allowing clothing stores, sporting goods, florists and bookstores to reopen, among others. Who made the decision that houses of worship were somehow less essential and more “risky” than a sporting goods store?

Yes, the stores have to limit the number of customers coming in at one time and provide measures to allow everyone to stay at least six feet apart. Disinfecting procedures are also required. But as Pastor Zimbardi pointed out, the churches can do the same thing. If too many people want to attend a given service, he can add a second service later in the day. And it’s probably one heck of a lot easier to disinfect his rows of pews than all of the merchandise, carts, baskets and everything else people wind up handling in the stores.

Also, not to put too fine of a point on this, but does Gavin Newsom honestly believe that the ability to get a new fishing rod is really more “essential” than people’s need to save their immortal souls? We’re in the midst of a pandemic. Tens of thousands of people have already died and everyone is watching the virus stalking the streets like the grim reaper. One might imagine that now more than ever is a time when citizens feel the need to receive spiritual sustenance.

Hollywood may have earned its reputation for being a den of iniquity full of godless heathens, but that doesn’t apply to everyone. There are plenty of churches all across California with thriving congregations. This has either escaped Gavin Newsom’s attention or he simply doesn’t care about them. I couldn’t tell you which is the case, but there are people of all religions out there who are not being well-served by their government at the moment.