A southern California pastor defiantly held indoor church services on Sunday after a judge tried to stop the congregation from gathering together.
What is the background?
Last week, Ventura County Judge Matthew Guasco granted a two-week restraining order against Godspeak Calvary Chapel, preventing the church from continuing to gather together indoors.
Guasco's order came after Ventura County sued the church for violating Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's coronavirus-related restrictions on religious gatherings.
In his ruling, Guasco said protecting public health outweighs the church's First Amendment rights.
"The Constitution is not a suicide pact," Guasco said. "The exercise of individual liberties has to be consistent with public health, otherwise the one would cancel out the other."
"On a scale of 1 to 10 of the most immediate irreparable harm possible, this is a 10," he later wrote in his opinion. "It doesn't get much more immediate or irreparable than the threat that a lot of people are going to spread a contagious and deadly disease."
What happened Sunday?
Despite the ruling, Pastor Rob McCoy held indoor services, KABC-TV reported.
One day prior, McCoy vowed to hold the services — three services, in fact — despite risking further government enforcement of gathering restrictions.
"I wish you didn't have to come to this, I really do. But we will be violating the judge's order, we will be open this Sunday," McCoy told his congregation in a video. "Now, I don't know what that means as far as who's gonna stop us, but we're planning on having services at 9, 11, and 1."
"We're going to keep worshiping God," he continued. "If they seek to arrest me and the thousand of you, it's almost like the first thousand get a prize: You get a citation. It's a misdemeanor. You want to be one of the thousand? Come."
McCoy went on to say that fear over COVID-19 does not remove the church's right to assemble.
"We're gonna do what we are gonna do," McCoy said. "So, come to church. And if you're one of the first thousand, you win a prize: you will get a citation, it will be a misdemeanor, it'll go on your record — be mindful of that. And if we continue doing that, there's likely jail."
Godspeak Urgent Update - 8.7.2020 www.youtube.com
According to KABC, protesters showed up outside the church on Sunday — but that did not stop the church from operating.
McCoy has said that no member of his congregation has contracted COVID-19 to date.