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Ventura County expects court hearing against pastor who defied health orders

VENTURA, Calif. -- A Ventura County Church has continued to hold indoor services on Sundays despite the Countywide Public Health Order prohibiting large greetings.

Many come out to attend Sunday services inside Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park. People gathered inside for church services not physically distanced, not wearing masks.

"County Code Enforcement has been monitoring the situation and they went to the court and received a restraining order to order him to stop doing that,” said Eric Buschow, captain at the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

On Sunday Pastor Rob McCoy led three services despite a restraining order against him for refusing to follow orders to stop inside worship. Many in the congregation support the pastor.

"He has suggested that if you are over 60 and if you have some health problems, which we do, diabetes and former cancer, that you may choose to sit outside and listen to service or listen to it at home,” said Rick Herreras a church member at Godspeak.

"Our congregation is educated and they are making a decision as citizens in this county,” said McCoy.

McCoy tells reporters that he uses UV lights and other sanitizing measures, and he will continue to lead services. He has no plans to move outdoors. Ventura County expects a court hearing first thing Tuesday morning.

"Representatives from County Code Enforcement were on site [Sunday] monitoring the situation and their observation will be presented to the court at some point,” said Buschow. “Then the judge will decide on what action to take place."

Churches are not the only businesses shut down by the health order. Gyms, non-essential office buildings, malls, personal care services, hair salons and barber shops can only operate outside.

"Businesses are tired of their businesses being destroyed, we are tired of the politics of all of it. Let it go away, let us have our freedom back,” said McCoy.

"I know that Mr. McCoy's stance is that he is defending religious freedom,” said Buschow. “The one thing to point out is that no one is infringing on his ability to practice his religion and I think a lot of religious leaders throughout the world have adapted to the change in this pandemic by thinking of creative ways to offer church services. So the restriction isn't based on religious services it is based on the gathering of people in violation of the health order."

Article Topic Follows: Health

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Senerey de los Santos


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