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US says California order discriminates against churches

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FILE – In this April 11, 2020, file photo, a person films pastor Nicolas Sanchez, center left, celebrating Easter Vigil Mass at his church decorated with candles and pictures sent by his parishioners attached to their pews at St. Patrick Church in North Hollywood, Calif. The head of the federal Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division told Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday, May 19, 2020, that his plan to reopen California discriminates against churches. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The head of the federal Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has told Gov. Gavin Newsom that his plan to reopen California discriminates against churches.

In a letter to the governor Tuesday, the official said that despite the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, Newsom should allow some in-person worship.

Restaurants and other secular businesses are being allowed to reopen under social distancing guidelines but not churches, which are limited to online and similar services.

Newsom says churches and other religious institutions could start welcoming back the faithful for limited in-person services in the coming weeks.

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