A California church is going to court today after Santa Clara County filed a lawsuit against them for worshipping together during indoor services.
Calvary Chapel in San Jose has been gathering indoors since May and is now facing fines up to $350,000 as a result. The county limits indoor gatherings to 100 people, but nearly 600 are gathering to hear Pastor Mike McClure, the Christian Post reports.
The church has the ability to hold 1,900 people.
McClure told congregants this Sunday, "There are people who are accusing us that we are trying to kill people, that we don't care about people... That's the farthest thing from the truth."
California-based legal group Advocates for Faith and Freedom is representing Calvary Chapel, who said early on they would not adhere to the county restrictions on indoor worship services. Rather, they would follow guidance from President Trump's assertions that "in-church worship was an essential function."
"Am I willing to go to jail? I'm willing to be obedient to God," said Pastor Mike McClure.
— Advocates for Faith & Freedom (@advocates4faith) October 31, 2020
Attorney Mariah Gondeiro is defending Calvary Chapel and says the county's actions are unjustified and "pure fear-mongering" and there have been zero positive COVID-19 cases reported among congregants.
"The fact that they waited five months to bring this temporary restraining order, and the church has seen no COVID-19 undermines the idea that there is some type of emergency," she added.
"The virus, by all scientific measures, is no worse than the seasonal flu, and Santa Clara County remains in one of the lowest tiers," the church's complaint reads. "Plaintiffs have also outwardly supported super spreader events like protests in the streets."
Advocates for Faith & Freedom shared data on the coronavirus pandemic which is counter to the allegations presented by the county.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office filed a complaint in Superior Court on Oct. 27 in Superior Court, requesting that Calvary Chapel stop "ongoing and serious violations of the state and local public health orders."
But Pastor McClure is vowing to keep his church open after seeing members suffer from emotional and mental anguish due to the pandemic lockdown.
"The church has experienced a significant increase in spiritual and mental distress," the motion reads. "Pastor Mike McClure has been in contact with people who are suffering from anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. The church services have played a vital role in sustaining the congregation's spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing."
"I'm just gonna keep ministering to people because it's not just services that we do. We do a lot of things to help people," McClure said. "We're gonna keep helping the hurting."
The lawsuit against Calvary Chapel is one of many California cases where state officials have imposed harsh restrictions on churches during the pandemic.
Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Arcadia, California filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 29 over his endless "state of emergency" and what they believe are unconstitutional COVID-19 restrictions that he has imposed upon houses of worship.
Grace Community Church in Sun Valley has gone through a round of legal battles but vows to continue to fight and protect religious freedom for the church.
And Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks was found to be in contempt of court after violating Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders prohibiting in-person worship, including home Bible studies and fellowship.
Despite the limitations that have been placed on Christians during COVID, many are willing to take a risk for the same reasoning – to worship Jesus Christ together.
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