Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing more legal challenges from religious organizations to his newest state orders restricting gatherings in COVID-19 hotspots, with one law firm calling it an “abuse of power.”

On Friday, the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based advocacy law firm representing a group of plaintiffs including two Catholic priests and four Orthodox observers, filed for a temporary restraining order on Cuomo’s executive orders. The governor has placed restrictions on houses of worship in so-called "red zones"-- where the virus has been spreading the fastest -- are not allowed to have more than 10 people in attendance until infection rates decline. All but two plaintiffs live in Brooklyn and say their houses of worship were affected by Cuomo’s zones.

Aside from south Brooklyn and two sections in Queens, the restrictions of Cuomo’s Cluster Action Initiatives also apply to Binghamton and two suburban communities in Rockland and Orange counties.

“The new filing shows that Cuomo and other state officials are now singling out religious gatherings for special burdens without showing any evidence that religious gatherings, and not countless other exempted gatherings and activities, are unique sources of spreading COVID-19,” the law firm said in a press release.

“The governor’s new ‘Cluster Action Initiative’ is a completely arbitrary and astounding abuse of power, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse,” said Christopher Ferrara, one of the firm's lawyers, in the release. “It is a blatant violation of our clients’ right to the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment, including their right to be free from such explicit and brazen religious discrimination.” The application was filed in federal court in the Northern District of New York on Friday.

(Update: according to Jack Sterne of the governor's office, on Saturday a federal judge denied the Thomas More application, which was an expansion of a previous injunction filed in June against Cuomo's restrictions on outdoor religious gatherings, or to limit indoor religious gatherings at less than 50 percent capacity.)

This latest challenge comes after the Diocese of Brooklyn and a number of Jewish groups, led by Agudath Israel, an umbrella organization for synagogues, filed separate restraining order applications against Cuomo’s initiative, arguing that the limits on capacity amounted to a constitutional violation of religious freedom.

A federal judge denied Agudath of Israel’s application on Friday, and another federal judge also denied the Diocese of Brooklyn’s application on Saturday.

“We are disappointed by last night’s initial ruling, but this is only the beginning of the case, and we expect ultimately to prevail," said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio in a statement Saturday, while acknowledging the churches will abide by the new restrictions. "We are seeking what is just. And we have kept parishioners safe and will continue to do so. Thus, there is no reason for this latest interference with our First Amendment right to celebrate Mass together, so we will continue to press the courts and our elected officials to end it as soon as possible."

During a call with reporters on Friday, Cuomo denied that he was targeting religious communities with his latest restrictions. "This cluster happens to be predominantly the ultra-orthodox in Brooklyn and Queens. We have always attacked clusters," he said, adding, "Bars, restaurants, clusters, (a) concert in the Hamptons - whenever there is a cluster, we have attacked it. So, this is nothing new."

In July, Thomas More Society lawyers successfully won a temporary injunction when a federal judge ruled that New York state and city officials cannot limit religious gatherings while still allowing mass protests against police brutality and re-opening secular businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.