Pastor Rob McCoy faced a judge today in a California courthouse for a contempt of court hearing against Godspeak Calvary Chapel, the church he pastors, for violating a court order from the county that restricted them from holding indoor worship services due to the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Judge O’Neill found Godspeak Calvary Chapel and Pastor Rob McCoy in contempt of the court’s order. The county was seeking a total of $6,000 in fines, $1,000 for each violation (two Sundays with three services each equals 6 times of holding indoor worship services), but Judge O’Neill imposed a $500 fine for each of the violations which totaled $3,000. Pastor McCoy wasn’t issued any penalties, and the Judge said the church didn’t have to pay attorney fees. According to the VC Star, the county was not seeking fines against McCoy or any other church members at this time for this hearing.
Pastor McCoy Makes His Case
While on the stand, McCoy stated they aren’t meeting outdoors due to a staff member that has a sun allergy, and that he (McCoy) has a stack of death threats he has received (because they have held indoor services). He claimed that the elderly and disabled members of the church also pose a concern if they had to worship in the hot sun. Pastor McCoy then pointed out that Godspeak Calvary Chapel is located in the zip code that has the lowest per capita COVID-19 case rates in the county. He also emphasized that none of the congregants have tested positive for the coronavirus for the two months they have been meeting indoors with no masks and not practicing social distancing.
According to Kyle Jorrey, a journalist who was live tweeting the courtroom hearing, McCoy said, “There’s been family issues, substance abuse issues, suicide concerns, it’s affected our fellowship like it has the entire community, it’s been devastating since shutdown started.” McCoy indicated those reasons were the driving force behind opening back up. McCoy then went on to say that the last three Sundays have brought over 2,500 people to Godspeak Calvary Chapel, and that the (real) concern is fire code (not the coronavirus).
Why They Defied The Restraining Order
When McCoy was asked why they continued to hold indoor services after they were issued the county’s restraining order, the pastor responded,
“I had to. The church is essential. People need to fellowship in a time of pandemic. God is critical.”
Political Leaders Show Support for Pastor Rob McCoy
Senator Rand Paul tweeted:
Are you willing to go to jail for the Constitution and for freedom?
My friend Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Church is.
Today he’ll stand before a California judge for standing up for faith and freedom!
The petty tyrants won’t win.
I stand with you, Pastor Rob.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) August 21, 2020
Senator Ted Cruz tweeted:
Are you willing to go to jail for the Constitution? Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Church is! Tomorrow morning, he’ll stand before a CA judge who’s holding Rob in contempt. Thx for standing up for the flock and We the People! The bullies won’t win. We are with you, Pastor.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 20, 2020
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich tweeted:
Are you willing to go to jail for the Constitution? My friend Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Church is! Tomorrow morning, he’ll stand before a CA judge who’s holding Rob in contempt. Thx for standing up for the flock and we the people! We are with you, Pastor
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) August 20, 2020
Another trial is scheduled for August 31, 2020. It is possible the church could incur a $500 fine for each service that is held between now and the August 31st trial.