California churches fined for gathering, singing

Pastor Jack Trieber (PHOTO: Youtube screenshot)

Originally published in CBN News

Churches in California have repeatedly been under attack for exercising their First Amendment rights by gathering to pray and worship. Now they are facing fines for singing together.

Liberty Counsel, a Christian religious rights law firm, reported that Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks was found to be in contempt of court last Friday for violating the state’s COVID-19 health orders.

Gov Gavin Newsom’s orders prohibit all in-person worship, including home Bible studies and fellowship.

Pastor Rob McCoy received a temporary restraining order on Aug. 7, banning all indoor worship services. The congregation continued to gather, leading to fines totaling $3,000.

“I’m not being disobedient; I’m being obedient,” McCoy told his congregants on August 9. “God called us to open, and we opened on Pentecost, May 31, and we haven’t closed since.”

“It’s unjust. We answer to a higher calling,” said parishioner Kim Bengard. “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.”

Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a supportive tweet, letting Pastor McCoy know that he stands behind him.

“Are you willing to go to jail for the Constitution? Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Church is! Tomorrow morning, he’ll stand before a CA judge who’s holding Rob in contempt. Thx for standing up for the flock and We the People! The bullies won’t win. We are with you, Pastor.”

A full hearing is scheduled for August 31.

Another church has also been fined. North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara is being punished for holding worship services, even though churchgoers adhered to the social distancing guidelines. The house of worship was even served a citation for singing.

The county placed a four-page letter on the front door of the church, indicating that singing at church services was “unlawful.”

“North Valley Baptist is failing to prevent those attending, performing and speaking at North Valley Baptist’s services from singing,” the letter reads. “This activity is unlawful. The county understands that singing is an intimate and meaningful component of religious worship.”

“However, public health experts have also determined that singing together in close proximity and without face coverings transmits virus particles further in the air than breathing or speaking quietly. The county demands that North Valley Baptist immediately cease the activities listed above and fully comply with the Risk Reduction Order, the Gatherings Directive, the State July 13 Order, and the State guidance. Failure to do so will result in enforcement action by the county,” the notice concludes.

North Valley Pastor Jack Trieber declared that churches have a fundamental right to worship together.

“You can’t have any law against assembling in God’s house. None,” he said. “I know we have a Constitutional right to worship, but we have a Higher Power that we answer to. I have a biblical mandate. We have obeyed authority in this church. We’ve always obeyed authority. But when local authority begins to disregard this authority, we go with this book right here,” he added while holding a Bible.

Bryon Foxx, who supports Pastor Trieber tweeted, “Pray for North Valley Baptist Church, Pastor Jack Trieber, Santa Clara, CA. The actual cease and desist letter was posted to their doors.  I fully support Pastor Trieber as he plans to conduct services tomorrow. ‘We ought to obey God, rather than men –Acts 5:29′.”

One Comment

  1. Jesus emphasised two most important commandments: Love God and Love your neighbour. A number of clearly substantiated reports trace pockets of Covid-19 infections to Christian gatherings, where people sang their praises. How will these pastors/leaders answer to God for NOT loving their neighbour by legalistically quoting the Bible in their defence? The reputation of Jesus Christ is being abused. I am enthusiastic for congregational singing for Scripture encourages this, but the spirit of the law (loving my neighbour) takes precedence. Remember the Pharisees who kept the letter of God’s Law, but not its spirit. (eg Matt 12:1-14)