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California church ordered to pay $1.2 million in fines for violating COVID health orders

A Superior Court of California ruled last week that the church engaged in "egregious conduct."

Published: April 15, 2023 11:08am

San Jose's Calvary church in Santa Clara County, California, has been ordered to pay $1.2 million in fines due to violating health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

A Superior Court of California ruled last week that the church engaged in "egregious conduct." 

Judge Evette Pennypacker rejected the church's argument that the public health orders prevented it from exercising religious freedom and were in violation of the Constitution. 

According to local media, the church had services during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, largely unmasked, which violated health orders.  

It was reported that between May 31, 2020, and May 2021, Calvary Chapel San Jose held services with 300-500 people in attendance, prayer gatherings and about 1,000 baptism ceremonies.

"It should appear clear to all—regardless of religious affiliation—that wearing a mask while worshiping one's god and communing with other congregants is a simple, unobtrusive, giving way to protect others while still exercising your right to religious freedom," the Office of the County Counsel said in a statement regarding the ruling. 

"Unfortunately, Defendants repeatedly refused to model, much less, enforce this gesture. Instead, they repeatedly flouted their refusal to comply with the Public Health Orders and urged others to do so 'who cares what the cost,' including death," the statement continued. 

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