Calvary church leaders found in contempt of court over COVID violations

In San Jose, a church lost another round in court today, for repeatedly violating health orders that limit or prohibit indoor services.

The leaders of Calvary Chapel San Jose were found in contempt, but they are already saying that they plan to appeal.

Attorneys for the church said there needs to be a stop to what they describe as a propaganda of fear.

County officials said the church is endangering the public by holding indoor services, but the pastor is defiant.

Congregation members cheered their support Tuesday afternoon for their Pastor Mike McClure as he emerged from Santa Clara County superior court.

He lost a legal battle during a contempt hearing.

McClure was sanctioned for holding in-person services indoors and failure to provide social distancing protocol to the county.

"I'm just here 'cause I want to help people. That's honestly the truth. I'm not a policeman to get in the way of your freedom," McClure said.

The church's attorneys said Calvary Chapel has been offering in person services including counselling for drug addiction and small prayer gatherings since May.

The pastor and the church face fines of $2,500 per day, for a total of $55,000 for the violations.

"What happened today is just a travesty of justice," said Robert Tyler, lead attorney for the church.

Tyler said the ban on indoor services is not respecting the United States constitution.

"It's shocking telling us how we can worship, how we can sing," Tyler said.

The pastor said he will continue to open his doors for those in need and that spiritual, emotional and mental health can not be overlooked during the pandemic.

"We've had a lot of people in our church who've had suicide of either a relative or a neighbor who's committed suicide. This bothers me. This should bother all of us. What we want to do is help people. We want to minister people,” McClure said.  

Santa Clara County officials said the majority of churches have abided by the health order and by not doing so, they said Calvary Chapel is endangering the public.

Aside from the church's attorneys plans to appeal, they've also filed a federal lawsuit to try to stop the case from going forward in state court.