Clash erupts outside California church after defiant pastor holds mask-free indoor service
The scuffle broke out between protesters and congregants.
A scuffle over social distancing broke out between a protester and congregants outside a California church on Sunday, according to reports.
The scuffle reportedly involved pushing, shoving, and yelling, but no arrests. The clash erupted after protesters, who don’t believe it's safe to go back to church, rallied outside Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Ventura County, where indoor services were being held.
Video showed a bare-faced man holding an American flag facing off with a masked man who was carrying a sign that read: "God can hear you from Home! Don’t be Freedumb."
In the video, the masked man tapped his sign on the other man’s head, prompting a scuffle that ended with a woman being kicked to the ground.
The church pastor, Rob McCoy, is facing pushback for this decision to hold indoor services despite a COVID-related court order that temporarily prevents him from doing so.
McCoy is among other pastors in the state who challenge COVID-19 mandates that they say unfairly target places of worship. His decision to hold the service drew supporters and detractors, according to Fox News.
"There's plenty of room to have beautiful outdoor services, and he chooses to break the rules. And I think that that's not right,” Shana Radashaw told Fox 11 Los Angeles. "I think God wants people to live and be healthy and not spread sickness when we don't need to."
Other people disagree, saying that it is their First Amendment right to be able to gather and worship, and that doesn’t go away just because there is a virus.
"We're seeing a loss of all rights, but the right of the church, this is the foundation of this country, and we’re very serious about it. So, yeah, we will go to jail for it," said Ginny Murry.
McCoy told FOX 11 the reason he hasn't held services outside is that a staff member has sun allergies, and there's not a big enough park nearby to accommodate all members.
The pastor on Friday had vowed to continue holding service despite Ventura County Superior Court Judge Matthew Guasco issuing the temporary restraining order, citing "an immediate threat to public health and safety due to the 2019 novel coronavirus."