Mesa, AZ – California citizens and residents have had their share of strife in the past several weeks, simultaneously dealing with the devastating effects of an extended heat wave, rolling blackouts, and destructive wildfires. Conditions have gotten so bad in certain areas that even the faithless have been tempted to cast their eyes skyward and request, “Jesus, take the wheel.”
Just as long as they don’t say it in an enclosed building, and God forbid, as long as they don’t sing it. Then there will be real hell to pay.
North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara County found this out the hard way when Pastor Jack Trieber was hit last month with a $10,000 fine for the transgression of singing during a church service. County health officials, according documents provided to the court in the church’s appeal of the fine, sent actual spies into the church to find out if parishioners were lifting their voices unto the Lord, as it were. And they were.
“North Valley Baptist…is failing to prevent those attending, performing, and speaking at (North Valley’s) services from singing,” read a county-generated cease and desist letter that accompanied the heavy fine. “This activity is unlawful.”
The county’s action, according to Citizens for Free Speech (CFFS), is much worse. They say it’s unconstitutional.
“The one thing Californians should be able to count on in this difficult time of violent protests and natural disasters is their ability to practice their faith,” said CFFS Executive Director Patrick Wood. “But instead, Governor Newsom and several county boards of health have wildly exceeded their authority to regulate the free exercise of religion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Indeed, the flock at North Valley Baptist does not fly alone. In Los Angeles County, Grace Community Church Pastor John MacArthur has chosen to defy the governor’s order against congregational gatherings, so the county retaliated by canceling a portion of the church’s lease on their parking lot. Pastor MacArthur noted that the ongoing assault on organized religion stood in stark contrast to gatherings the state actually approved of.
“We’re not supposed to notice the overtly self-destructive nature of popular moral deviancies,” the Pastor explained in an op-ed last week, “so the mainstream media will portray months of lawlessness and rioting as legitimate expressions of free speech. Meanwhile, nothing is more politically incorrect than religious belief.”
MacArthur’s church is facing $20,000 in fines and fees as a result of the county’s heavy-handed actions, which Wood says are completely unwarranted given the current state of the pandemic that spawned the orders.
“The CDC is constantly updating their statistics,” the Wood explained, “and their most recent revelation is that 94% of those who have died with the virus had one or more comorbitities that led to their deaths. Additionally, they have now determined that as high as 90% of the positive cases diagnosed were caused by hypersensitive testing that detected unrelated virus particles, or those too low to be contagious. It’s time to end this national state of emergency to restore the First Amendment to its rightful place.”
Such an end cannot come soon enough for Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Ventura County, which has welcomed hundreds of parishioners to Sunday services in spite of a temporary restraining order obtained by the county health department. Pastor Rob McCoy declared that his church is standing up for religious liberty, and will continue to defy orders that restrict their God-given and constitutional right to worship. As one Godspeak parishioner declared, “the government is not the ultimate authority to which they answer.”
“We answer to a higher calling.”
For more information about CFFS please visit www.CitizensForFreeSpeech.org.
National Director of Communications