VENTURA, Calif. -- A Ventura County pastor who held church services indoors despite the pandemic avoids jail, but will pay $3,000 fine.
“I love the city, I love the county, but I also love God,” said Rob McCoy.
The Newbury Park Pastor and former city council member took the stand Friday morning explaining why he held church service indoors despite COVID-19 public health orders.
“When the governor embraced the Black Lives Matter movement shoulder to shoulder, condoning it, and no masks, we realized that we could open,” said McCoy. “We have UV lights, an air systems, hand sanitizers and no outbreak since May 31.”
On August 7 the Ventura County Superior Court granted a temporary restraining order requiring Godspeak Calvary Chapel and pastor McCoy to adhere to statewide and local public health orders requiring church services to be held either online or outdoors with masks and physical distancing.
That very next Sunday, the church was packed inside. Friday's hearing determined whether the chapel or McCoy should be held in contempt.
“Its unconscionable to think that in the United States of America we went into court in fear that a pastor might have been taken into jail in contempt,” said Robert Tyler, who is McCoys attorney.
Ultimately judge Vincent O’Neil decided against jail time, but fined McCoy $500 for each service that was held for a total of $3,000.
“I don’t envy judge O’Neal, he was in an unenviable position,” said McCoy. “The $500 fine per incident of violation of the emergency temporary restraining order is a small price to pay to stand in defense of all the citizens in our community who have been effected by the measures from the governor.”
“We are glad that the judge ruled the way he did in terms of not putting him into jail,” said Tyler. “I would of liked to see him waive any sort of sanctions, but he is in a difficult position.”
There is no word yet if McCoy will continue to hold church services indoors on Sundays.