Ventura County, California is suing a Thousand Oaks church for holding in-person, indoor services with no masks or social distancing in defiance of state coronavirus orders.
The Daily Wire reports that Senior Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Chapel, who has served as the mayor of Thousand Oaks, described services simply: “Singing, hugging, no masks.”
Earlier this year, McCoy stepped down as a city council member after California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) deemed churches as “nonessential.”
On April 5, the day after stepping down, McCoy hosted socially distanced Communion for 10 people at a time. His church began livestreaming services afterward as many congregations across the US did through the spring.
However, following the massive George Floyd protests held in the state which infamously gave little regard to social distancing (and subsequently received little recourse for doing so), the church began resuming normal services, in person.
Dr. Robert Levin, a public health officer in Ventura County and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, declared of the church, “It is only a matter of time — if it has not already happened — before there is a significant outbreak of COVID-19 cases among the attendees.”
The lawsuit states charges that the “chapel and McCoy, in public statements, have represented that they will continue to violate the State Stay at Home Order and the Local Health Order by conducting, participating in, and attending indoor worship services at the Property, by failing to comply with the mandate of the State Public Health Officer to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing, and by permitting, allowing, and encouraging others to violate these mandates. McCoy has stated that he is ‘willing to go to jail’ and is ‘willing for them to take our building’ rather than to comply with the State Stay at Home Order and the Local Health Order.”
The suit goes on to state that the church holding normal services “will cause and continue to cause great and irreparable injury to the general public, including all persons within Ventura County, by creating a significant risk of further community spread of COVID-19, including hospitalizations and deaths, which in turn is likely to result in continued and further restrictions on businesses and other operations and activities within Ventura County, detrimentally affecting the quality of life of the entire community.”
Ventura County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas, who watched the church’s livestream, asserted, “Instead, attendees were in close proximity to one another, seated side by side in pews, for the entirety of the service. The church appeared to be at capacity.”
McCoy has taken the position that the state’s social distancing guidelines are inappropriate to begin with.
“We would be the first to be masked and distanced, and willingly so, if this were meriting it, and it doesn’t. This isn’t a health issue, it’s an ideological issue,” he says.
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