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San Jose church fined $350,000 for holding large services in violation of health orders

Street view of Calvary Chapel San Jose
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By Wesley Severson - Published on November 02, 2020.

A temporary restraining order filed by the Santa Clara County Friday morning orders Calvary Chapel San Jose to “stop ongoing and serious violations of the state and local public health orders,” as stated in a press release from the office of the District Attorney.

Santa Clara County called services at the church facility on Hillsdale Avenue over the past 5-months super-spreader events that have exceeded 600 people. The county claims people weren’t wearing masks or social distancing. 

Right now, only 100 people or less are allowed at county churches (25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer), everyone must be distanced, and wear a mask. That’s why the county has issued $350,000 dollars in fines to Calvary Chapel. According to NBC Bay Area, county officials have tried to work with church officials to get them to come into compliance, and that fines have yet to be paid.

A Calvary San Jose Facebook post from July 7 of this year proudly depicted a group, none wearing masks. One follower of the Facebook page added, "The 'best' big group picture ever in over 5 months.I can actually see beautiful (faces.) Forget what our CA. Governor says! -- More MASK-LESS Face pictures, please? 🙂"

According to the Christian Post, this all started on May 31st, the day of Pentecost, in protest of Governor Gavin Newsom’s statewide restrictions on churches.

On Friday, Calvary Chapel’s Pastor Mike McClure along with lawyers for the church, and other pastors across the state came together at a press conference to speak out against the public health orders against churches. Robert Tyler, President of Advocates for Faith & Freedom which is legally representing the church, says that the orders are a violation of constitutional and religious rights.

Much as other churches around the country have claimed, the group claims the state and county are wrong when they describe the large church services as an unacceptable risk. The group said despite having large services over the past 5 months, not one church member has been infected with Covid-19 — but this has not been confirmed.

They also said the pastors at the church are being threatened with jail time for health violations but so far the county has not mentioned any warrants or criminal charges.

"To keep our residents safe, and to allow schools, churches, and businesses to reopen and stay open, we need everyone to do their part," Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams said in a statement. “We cannot allow any organization in our community to willfully and repeatedly violate these orders, while everyone else, including other churches and religious organizations in the County, are complying.”

The two sides were scheduled to meet in court today, Monday, to discuss the matter further. We will keep you posted.

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