A church in California has been hit with a $15,000 fine after holding an indoor service in violation of the county’s health orders.
Officials in Santa Clara County issued North Valley Baptist Church $5,000 fines for each of the two in-person services held last Sunday, despite the congregation adhering to social distancing guidelines.
The church held another meeting on Wednesday evening, which prompted the county to issue the church with another $5,000 fine, taking the total to $15,000.
The congregation was also served a citation for singing. The county placed a four-page letter on the front door of the church, indicating that singing at church services was “unlawful.”
Pray for North Valley Baptist Church, Pastor Jack Trieber, Santa Clara, CA.— ByronFoxx (@EvangelistFoxx) August 23, 2020
The actual cease and desist letter was posted to their doors.
I fully support Pastor Trieber as he plans to conduct services tomorrow.
“We ought to obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29) pic.twitter.com/2DgabchKXa
According to CBN News, the letter said: “North Valley Baptist is failing to prevent those attending, performing and speaking at North Valley Baptist’s services from singing. This activity is unlawful.
“The county understands that singing is an intimate and meaningful component of religious worship. However, public health experts have also determined that singing together in close proximity and without face coverings transmits virus particles further in the air than breathing or speaking quietly.
“The county demands that North Valley Baptist immediately cease the activities listed above and fully comply with the Risk Reduction Order, the Gatherings Directive, the State July 13 Order, and the State guidance.
“Failure to do so will result in enforcement action by the county,” the statement concludes.
North Valley Pastor Jack Trieber said the church not only has a Constitutional right to worship, but they also have a biblical mandate to.
“You can’t have any law against assembling in God’s house. None,” Trieber said. “I know we have a Constitutional right to worship, but we have a Higher Power that we answer to. I have a biblical mandate.
“We have obeyed authorities in this church. We’ve always obeyed authority. But when local authority begins to disregard this authority, we go with this book right here,” he said referring to the Bible.
County Counsel James Williams said the fines have been ineffective and authorities are looking for other ways to deter churches from continuing to assemble.
“It appears for the moment that the fines have not stopped them from continuing the gatherings, and we’ll be looking at what other options we might have to take.”
Williams went on to say: “There just doesn’t seem to be recognition on the part of the congregation that they need to follow the law and that they’re continuing to harm the community by holding an illegal gathering and doing so in willful defiance of the law.”
According to The Mercury News, the $5,000 fine per service is the highest possible find for business violations of the coronavirus health order permitted under the ordinance Santa Clara County adopted earlier this month.