California County’s Petition to Collect Over $200,000 in Fines from Church That Defied COVID Restrictions DENIED

Some churches defied government directives to shut down or restrict services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, Santa Clara County ordered churches to remain closed, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision that temporarily barred California from enforcing COVID-19 restrictions on indoor worship services. The court did allow the state to limit indoor capacity to 25 percent and continue to ban singing and chanting under Tier 1, pending a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The same county sought to collect money from Calvary Chapel San Jose for violating COVID-19 restrictions. But officials were disappointed.

The California Supreme Court last week denied the county’s petition asking that the church pay over $217,500 in fines, the Christian Post reported.

In a related case, the government ended up paying a church a “fine” of sorts. California pastor John MacArthur defied the state’s orders to stop indoor worship services at Grace Community Church during the pandemic. Los Angeles County issued a cease-and-desist order and threatened MacArthur with fines, jail, and contempt.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works retaliated against MacArthur and his church by issuing a 30-day notice to terminate a lease agreement for land the church had used as a parking lot for 45 years.

MacArthur sued the governor, the state’s attorney general, the city’s mayor, and other officials to stop the government from enforcing unconstitutional regulations it claimed were necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The parties agreed to settle the lawsuit last September. The state and Los Angeles County agreed to pay MacArthur $800,000.

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