California Church with more than $ 1 million in COVID fines and a $ 340,000 PPP loan

A California church with hundreds of participants received just over $ 340,000 in forgiving federal loans from the Salary Protection Program, and was fined more than $ 1 million for defying public health orders against holding meetings. in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calvary Chapel San Jose moved forward with an indoor service on Christmas Eve, despite the Santa Clara County public health order against these meetings, the NBC Bay Area reported Thursday night. The Northern California church has already accumulated fines of more than $ 1 million for past violations of state health orders. Meanwhile, Calvary Chapel has benefited from an April PPP loan of $ 340,400 – about three times more than other religious organizations in the bay area, according to an analysis by KGO-TV.

“It is worrying to know that an institution that is mocking the courts and public health orders at the state and local levels is simultaneously turning around and receiving taxpayer money from the federal government,” said Santa Clara County attorney James Williams, to KGO. “This is quite worrying and a little bit ironic.”

discarded medical mask
A discarded face mask is pictured on a curb in Venice Beach, California, amid the COVID-19 pandemic on August 22

In Christmas remarks on Thursday night, Calvary Chapel pastor Mike McClure told his congregation that the United States government is acting like that of the Roman empire when it is believed that Jesus Christ was born.

“This is what Caesar wanted, he wanted to be adored, just like the government today,” said McClure, according to KNTV. “But only God can be worshiped, and only God is worthy of our praise.”

The current order to stay at home in Santa Clara County, which was last revised on December 4, prohibits “all meetings with members of other families, whether inside or outside the home.” Outdoor religious services and other events are allowed for up to 100 people. But McClure and his church challenged those requirements, with their lawyers questioning the constitutionality of county and state public health orders.

Despite the concerns of local health officials, McClure’s lawyers may be correct. The Supreme Court ruled in late November that New York’s restrictions on religious meetings violated the constitution. In that action, brought by New York church and synagogue leaders, the majority opinion said that state restrictions could not “isolate houses of worship for especially harsh treatment”.

It is not entirely clear whether the Supreme Court would see California’s restrictions in the same way. But the main judicial body directed a lower court this month to reconsider an earlier decision that upheld California’s ban on closed religious services in light of its New York decision. Following this guideline, Los Angeles County, California, reversed its ban on closed religious services. However, he said that these events could only proceed “with mandatory physical distance and facial covers over the nose and mouth, which should be used at all times on the spot”.

Meanwhile, California has recorded the highest number of infections in any state, with more than 2 million since the pandemic began, according to The New York Times‘tracker. The western state, which is also the most populous in the country, reported the third highest number of deaths in any state, with almost 24,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Last week, California averaged more than 40,000 new infections and more than 250 deaths per day. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Santa Clara County has reported 61,090 infections and 3,169 deaths. During the past seven days, the county has had a daily average of more than 1,200 infections.

Newsweek he contacted Calvary Chapel and the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health for comment, but they did not respond immediately.