The county of Santa Clara, California has been excellent when it comes to enforcing their own COVID restrictions. When one church ignored their rules by holding massive indoor services that broke the law by not requiring face masks, not taking social distancing seriously, and including singing (which spreads the virus), county officials fined them over $112,000. That church finally caved and moved outdoors.
Calvary Chapel San Jose is another place that has ignored the rules with indoor services bringing together hundreds of people, who are not wearing face masks, and who don’t socially distance. Even beyond that, Pastor Mike McClure has openly bragged (during live-streams) about how the church is non-compliant, saying in May, “God doesn’t want us to isolate ourselves. All of us need to be in the sanctuary. I don’t care what they say, I’m never again going to close the doors, ever.”
The county has issued more than $350,000 in fines… but the church hasn’t paid up.
So the county is resorting to its final option in order to protect the physical health of their residents: They’re suing the church and demanding the courts shut the place down.
“In light of the frequency and size of Defendants’ indoor gatherings, as well as the fact that COVID-19 spreads so easily and quickly from person to person indoors, Defendants’ conduct creates an immediate and serious risk to the health and safety of the people of the County and the State of California,” the complaint reads.
For its part, the church has deemed the injunction “a request to crush the Church’s constitutional rights” even as it admits to the facts at hand. In planned legal filing to oppose the order, the defendants argued that the county’s complaint is based upon a theoretical argument rather than a genuine threat because Calvary Chapel’s gatherings have not been linked to a superspreader outbreak.
No one has a constitutional right to spread a deadly virus, and we shouldn’t have to wait for an outbreak to enforce that. The church is free to livestream its services or hold in-person services that adhere to local restrictions. They don’t want to play by the rules. They believe being Christian gives them the right to break the rules.
The first court hearing takes place on Monday. Here’s hoping the county wins the case quickly before we discover the hard way that the church is harming people.
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Jim for the link. The article has been updated to reflect that this is happening in the county of Santa Clara, not the city. Apologies for the mistake.)