Yuba City Sikh temple forced to close after large New Year’s Day service

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YUBA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) — A Sikh temple in Yuba city was forced to shut down for defying state pandemic requirements. 

The latest closure order was given to the temple by a judge after some people took matters into their own hands. 

“It was kind of unexpected,” said attorney Michael Barrette.

Barrette is an attorney for the Sikh Temple of Yuba City on Tierra Buena Road and says the emptiness is caused by the pandemic and a few people who opened it up for a service. 

“Got the keys from the priest and open it up and start reading the holy book and start serving lungar,” Barrette told FOX40. 

Barrette explains that the temple was closed due to the regional stay-at-home order, but a non-compliant faction of the board of directors, which has 73 members, opened it up for a service on New Year’s Day. 

According to Barrette, about 50 to 60 people attended. 

He adds the decision put the temple in jeopardy, so remaining board members, for whom Barrette is attorney, asked a Sutter County judge to close the temple until further notice. 

“Religion is important, but it can not stand in the way of the health and safety of persons and we certainly don’t want people sick or dying out there,” Barrette said. 

Barrette says the issue to go against the order probably stems from the temple’s board of directors spring election that was postponed due to COVID-19.

Aside from defying a health order, the decision to open up the temple could put it at risk of of being sued. 

“Nobody wants to see the temple closed. Nobody wants to see that happen. But as we are seeing our hospitalizations spike and we are seeing National Guard having to come and help with this hospital and beds not being available,” Barrette said. “It’s just something that needs to be done for the health and safety of everybody.”

Board members are working with a court appointed mediator and hope to host their election in a few months. 

FOX40 reached out to the other group’s attorney but could not get in touch. 

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