On Tuesday, a California church and its pastor were found in contempt and hit with a hefty fine for repeatedly violating a court order to cease their unmasked indoor services.
Authorities began to take action against the Calvary Chapel San Jose and its pastor, Mike McClure, back in October after multiple COVID-19 health violations. According to NBC News, the Santa Clara County district attorney and the county council sued the church for holding constant indoor services with hundreds of attendees not wearing masks, which is in direct violation of health officials’ orders to slow the spread of coronavirus. In early November, a court granted the county a temporary restraining order, which both the church and it’s pastor repeatedly violated. The church has now been fined nearly $55,000.
Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams believes that the church is putting an entire community at risk for unnecessary superspreader events by failing to comply with health officials’ orders.
“These public health orders are literally a matter of life and death; they are designed to reduce COVID-19 transmission, avoid serious illness, and save lives,” Williams urged.
Despite the risks, McClure says that his spiritual beliefs supersede the court rulings.
“I respect the judge, I understand what the laws are, but there’s a bigger law.” The pastor also added that while he is not against his congregation wearing masks, he cannot force churchgoers.
“I’m not a policeman; I’m a pastor,” he said.