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California church found in contempt, fined $55K after pastor refused to stop holding in-person services

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 12/9/2020 KATE FELDMAN
a group of people standing in front of a store: Mike McClure, the pastor at Calvary Church San Jose, said he still plans to stay open. © Provided by New York Daily News Mike McClure, the pastor at Calvary Church San Jose, said he still plans to stay open.

A San Jose pastor who flagrantly ignored the COVID-19 shutdown has been fined about $55,000 for hosting in-person services, but he says he has no plans to stop.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Peter H. Kirwan found Pastor Mike McClure and Calvary Chapel in San Jose in contempt Tuesday for “repeatedly violating a temporary restraining order mandating that the church stop holding unlawful indoor gatherings and require that its congregants wear face coverings and maintain physical distance during services,” the county said in a statement.

The district attorney’s office sued the church in October after more than $350,000 in fines weren’t enough of a threat to get McClure to close his doors and go virtual.

California church sued by county for violating coronavirus protocols

On Nov. 2, a judge granted a temporary restraining order, but McClure continued to host maskless, crowded services anyway.

“Given the current surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, it is absolutely vital for all individuals and entities to urgently and fully comply with all public health orders,” County of Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams said in a statement Tuesday.

“These public health orders are literally a matter of life and death; they are designed to reduce COVID-19 transmission, avoid serious illness, and save lives. This entity’s ongoing violations put the whole community at risk, and they won’t be tolerated.”

But McClure said he had no intention of stopping.

“I respect the judge and I respect what the law says,” he said after the court appearance, according to NBC Bay Area. “But there’s a bigger law. I have to get told, you follow God or you follow man. I have to follow what God’s word says.”

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