SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – The pastor of a South Bay church was in court on a contempt charge on Tuesday.
He faced a judge for defying health orders to stop gatherings at the Calvary Chapel in San Jose.
The pastor says battling coronavirus takes more than just maintaining physical health.
He explains these church services are necessary for the mind and the spirit as separation and depression has set in for many Americans leading to thoughts of suicide.
Many unmasked supporters lined the steps of a Santa Clara County court on Tuesday, as Calvary Chapel San Jose Pastor Mike McClure emerged after facing a judge for being charged with contempt.
“I want to help people that is honestly it. And I’m not a policeman, I’m not going to get in the way of your freedom. You have the freedom to worship God. We recognize the needs here are not just a physical body,” McClure said.
His church has been hosting weekly indoor services with an estimated 600 people, some of whom don’t wear masks, violating the county’s coronavirus prevention orders.
Their lawyer argues this is a violation of their first amendment rights.
He acknowledged the pandemic is real – but feels the fear instilled by restrictions is inflated.
“It’s real but it’s not what, we need to stop the propaganda of fear and that is what this is about. The propaganda of fear that is using this COVID crisis to shut down churches, to shut down free speech, to steal your liberties away,” attorney Robert Tyler said.
“This fear that’s been mongering in our culture for month after month is satanic, we don’t need to be afraid. Of whether it be the Black Plague or the Spanish flu. These things killed a lot of people. This you only have a 99.99% chance of dying. We don’t want anyone to get sick. No one in our church has gotten sick no one has gone to the hospital and no one has died,” McClure said.
According to their attorney, the church so far has been fined more than half a million dollars.
The judge Tuesday tacked on another $2,500 in fines for every day they host gatherings.
They plan to appeal plus filed an emergency motion to take this case out of California and into a federal court.
Pastor McClure could have been sent to jail by the judge today for his contempt charge but his attorney says it wasn’t brought up.
In the meantime, it seems like service may go on.