A church in California that has reportedly held worship services indoors with hundreds of attendees not wearing face masks was held in contempt of court and fined.
For months, Calvary Chapel of San Jose and its pastor, Michael McClure, have overseen worship services that were in violation of state public health restrictions on indoor gatherings.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Peter H. Kirwan ruled Tuesday that the church and McClure were in contempt of court and fined them for violating a Nov. 2 temporary restraining order.
The church was ordered to pay $2,500 for each time it violated the order by holding services without following public health guidelines, which reportedly will be around $55,000.
In comments made to media and a large number of supporters who gathered outside of the courthouse, McClure said that he is not inherently opposed to masks, saying, “If someone wants to wear one, wear one.”
“But I’m not a policeman, I’m a pastor,” said McClure, as quoted by NBC Bay Area. “I respect the judge. I understand what the laws are, but there’s a bigger law.
“When I have to get told, ‘you got to either follow God or you follow man,’ I have to follow what God’s Word says.”
McClure plans to appeal the decision and will be in federal court next week on a request to have the federal government intervene on behalf of the church, reported NBC.
County of Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams, who helped file the suit against Calvary Chapel and McClure in October, said on Tuesday after the ruling that full compliance with public health orders was “vital.”
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