NEWBURY PARK (CBSLA) — A Ventura County church that stepped out in defiance of coronavirus rules by holding multiple indoor services could now face fines, but the pastor said he is not at all concerned about the backlash.
Despite a temporary restraining order, Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park opened its doors once again to hundreds of worshippers on Sunday.
The people coming out, Pastor Rob McCoy included, say they are standing up for religious liberty and disagree with the enforcement of gathering restrictions that allow some places to reopen but churches remain restricted from indoor services.
“It’s unjust. We answer to a higher calling,” churchgoer Kim Bengard said. “We have a First Amendment right to liberty and to freedom and to meet and congregate. I think we’re obedient to God first and we will submit and pay the fine and we will fight it all the way.”
Several people have protested against the church holdings its services indoors, rather than outside as permitted during the pandemic, and a fight broke out a few weeks ago in response to the tension the controversy caused.
According to Ventura County emergency officials, there have been 102 coronavirus deaths in Ventura County and two deaths in Newbury Park but Pastor McCoy defends his decision to keep his services inside.
“It’s tragic those who have died. And the two thus far who have died from COVID-19, that’s tragic. But what’s even of greater tragedy is what the measurers of our government has done to the entirety of our community,” McCoy said.
Three services, at 9 a.m., noon and 1 p.m., were held at Godspeak Calvary Chapel on Sunday.
Guest speaker Charlie Kirk, a conservative political commentator, appeared for the packed service attended by hundreds of people who weren’t required to practice physical distancing or wear face coverings.
The services held could rack up a fine of $500 each, which would total $1,500 for Sunday alone.
While physical distancing wasn’t required for worshippers, those who opted to do so listened to the service on a radio station from their cars.
A full hearing on whether the temporary restraining order will continue or end is set for August 31.