MURRIETA, Calif.—Churches weren’t legally allowed to be open in California this past weekend, but at 412 Murrieta, a nondenominational church in this town southeast of Los Angeles, parishioners sat side-by-side on chairs less than a foot apart with no masks.

Pastor Tim Thompson said he plans to operate the same way this weekend, despite new state rules that allow houses of worship to open only at limited capacity.

“Most…

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