County officials in Northern California deny a report that they used cell phone data to track the locations of Calvary Chapel San Jose members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by Christian Headlines, court documents claim that Santa Clara County reportedly used a technique known as "geofencing" to determine if the church was violating COVID-19 restrictions by accessing church members' cell phone location data to track their movement.
A spokesperson for the County of Santa Clara told The Christian Post that the allegations were "false assertions" and do "not reflect an understanding of basic facts of the County's public health orders or enforcement program."
"To be clear, the County did not use cell phone surveillance to track anyone at Calvary Chapel during the pandemic. [Zweig's] article cites an after-the-fact analysis of third-party, commercially available aggregate data, done for litigation purposes in order to respond to Calvary's own allegations in a lawsuit that Calvary itself filed," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also rejected the claim that Santa Clara County put out "any restrictions specific to churches or religious institutions whatsoever."
On the other hand, in a February 8, 2021 statement, the county asserted that indoor worship services "may only proceed subject to all other State and local safety protocols, including mandatory face coverings, social distancing, and the prohibition on singing and chanting indoors."
In March 2020, Santa Clara County became the first county in the U.S. to issue a shelter-in-place order, in which residents were ordered to stay home unless they were buying food or seeking medical treatment.
Regardless of the recent allegations, the county continues to be "proud of its public health orders, enforcement, and overall response, which saved thousands of lives, resulting in one of the lowest death rates of any major county in the United States," the spokesperson added.
Last week, Calvary Chapel San Jose filed a countersuit against the county, arguing that the lockdowns violated its first amendment rights as well as the eighth amendment when it issued the church hefty fines.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.