A Thousand Oaks church and pastor sued by Ventura County over violations of the county’s public health order must stop holding indoor services after a court granted a restraining order Friday.
The temporary order requires Godspeak Calvary Chapel and Pastor Rob McCoy to have the religious services held outdoors, with participants wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.
The county sued the church Wednesday, alleging it has put attendees at risk while Ventura County remains on the state’s list of counties being monitored for troubling virus rates. Health officials reported another 111 coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the total to 8,146 with 89 deaths.
The Board of Supervisors earlier this week approved the use of restraining orders to get people and businesses to comply with the health order. But McCoy told the Ventura County Star he doesn’t know why his church is being singled out.
“We haven’t hurt anybody,” McCoy said.
According to the county’s lawsuit, Godspeak Calvary Chapel repeatedly held indoor services with more than 200 people despite a health order prohibiting gatherings inside places of worship since mid-July. The suit also alleges McCoy and church members have not worn masks and even sometimes “encouraged the violations” of this and other virus-related mandates.
McCoy criticized the government’s response to COVID-19 as “far worse than the virus itself,” the Star reported.
“They see fit to shutter our schools, destroy our businesses and close our churches,” he told the newspaper.
The pastor was a Thousand Oaks city councilman before resigning in early April.
According to the Los Angeles Times, he indicated he would violate health orders deeming churches nonessential.
“As an elected official I am in conflict and thus must tender my resignation from the council,” he wrote in a letter obtained by the Times. “I have no desire to put our community at risk and will not. … However this is portrayed, please know I am obligated to do this.”