A California judge on Thursday said the pastors of a well-known church that has held indoor worship services won’t have to serve time jail, although the congregation still faces substantial fines of more than $1 million.
Attorney Robert Tyler, who is representing Calvary Chapel San Jose and its pastor, Mike McClure, said after a court hearing that the judge said Santa Clara County is “only looking for monetary sanctions” and does not want to place McClure or any other pastors in jail.
“Thank God,” Tyler said. “... That’s off the table.”
The church has held indoors services in violation of pandemic health restrictions. The church also violated a court’s November restraining order enforcing the health restrictions.
The church is scheduled for another court hearing this week, Tyler said.
Calvary Chapel faces more than $1 million in fines, although Tyler and other supporters of the church hope the court will side with the congregation and rule the fines don’t have to be paid.
The congregation, Tyler said, is providing essential services for the community.
“In addition to this coronavirus pandemic, there is a greater pandemic,” Tyler said. “And that's a pandemic affecting mental health and affecting employment, affecting businesses.”
Lives “are literally saved from suicide” because of the church, Tyler said.
McClure, in comments after the court hearing, said the church is trying to “just help people … like the church has always done.”
“It's sad to see the state which our country is – where you have the state fighting against the church or the church against the state,” McClure said. “But we need to remember what made America great. It was our trusting God.
“... It’s said you could go 30 days without food. You can go three days without water. But you can't go three seconds without hope. America needs to know the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
McClure said of the church’s violation of local health restrictions: “We have to obey God's Word. And we need to gather together.”
Photo credit: Screenshot/Courtesy of Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.