Indoor service at California church, despite judges ban, sparks clashes

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A California church holding indoor services sparked a protest outside its doors and a confrontation between those for and against the gathering.

Protesters angry that Godspeak Calvary Chapel was holding services inside on Sunday, despite a judge’s temporary restraining order, gathered outside the Ventura County church where tensions escalated at one point with those defending pastor’s decision.

(Source: Fox 11)

Pastor Rob McCoy joined other church leaders in the state in challenging state and local coronavirus mandates, decrying the unfair targeting of religious institutions while other businesses have been allowed to reopen. California has also released thousands of prisoners from jails, many who have committed violent crimes, over fears they will become infected with the coronavirus.

“I’m seeing a room full of people who realize that liberty is not man’s idea, it’s God’s idea,” McCoy told congregants during a service. “And you’ll be ridiculed and you’ll be maligned, but you’re doing it for those who ridicule and malign you.”

An altercation broke out during a protest as demonstrators clashed and a scuffle broke out over a sign. A woman named Beth told KABC that a man tried to take away her sign. Video footage from the scene showed a man being hit with a sign and a woman, screamed as another man apparently took off with her sign, and then appeared to fall.

“Church security said the man in question was not part of the congregation and was told to stay on one side of the sidewalk or he’d be asked to leave,” KABC reported.

(Source: KABC)

The first church service began at 9 a.m. and two more were expected to follow in the morning as McCoy noted that holding outdoor services was not feasible for the Newbury Park location.

“Lord, we’re not here to endanger our community,” McCoy, a former city council member, prayed during the first service. “We’re here because the church is essential.”

Pastors from churches in other states and cities had come in to attend service and support McCoy who defied a judge’s temporary restraining order which cited “an immediate threat to public health and safety due to the 2019 novel coronavirus.”

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Matthew Guasco banned in-person gatherings of the church temporarily until another hearing is held on Aug. 21 after the county had sued the church for allegedly endangering the public.

“On a scale of one to 10 of the most immediate irreparable harm possible, this is a 10,” Guasco said during a hearing. “It doesn’t get much more immediate or irreparable than the threat that a lot of people are going to spread a contagious and deadly disease.”

Leftist protesters rioting, looting and demonstrating against police and racial injustice were allowed to gather in California and other states in the last few months without their government leaders issuing restraining orders or banning their activities.

But churches, which have been restricted for months amid the coronavirus pandemic, are fighting back. Grace Community Church Pastor John MacArthur hired prominent lawyers to challenge Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom and the city of Los Angeles over the restrictions.

“We’ve been open since May,” McCoy told KABC, noting the low number of cases and deaths in the county due to the virus. “We haven’t had one case reported to me by a congregant of any COVID-19.”

Protesters gathering outside the church on Sunday disagreed.

“There’s plenty of room to have beautiful outdoor services and he chooses to break the rules. And I think that that’s not right,” Shana Radashaw told Fox 11. “I think God wants people to live and be healthy and not spread sickness when we don’t need to.”

“This way we’re not going to control this thing. There’s going to be more and more outbreaks and this thing is going to drag on forever,” Andrew Goetze said.

But those who supported the pastor argued that church members have a right to gather for live services and efforts to ban them are a violation of their freedoms.

“We’re seeing a loss of all rights but the right of the church, this is the foundation of this country and we’re very serious about it. So yeah we will go to jail for it,” Ginny Murry told Fox 11.

“Being in community with your church actually means being able to come together and feel that power and I do believe there is an agenda out there of people trying to separate us,” Sandra Efraimson said.

McCoy and other church leaders saw plenty of support for the push ahead to hold in-person services, slamming the left’s agenda in targeting places of worship.


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