California Church that Defied Mask Mandate Must Pay $1.2 Million in Fines
BY RICK MORAN
Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, & research purposes.
Calvary Chapel in San Jose, Calif., is a large evangelical church that defied state and local orders to mask up during services and maintain “social distancing.” Of course, we now know that mask-wearing was about as effective against spreading COVID-19 as wearing a necklace of newt entrails and “social distancing” was a bad joke.
But it’s not the science. It’s that the church defied authorities. So now Calvary must pay the state of California $1.2 million in fines because they got bureaucrats mad at them.
Is there anyone who doesn’t think $1.2 million for not wearing masks is fair? Is it even reasonable? Vindictiveness should not be a part of the American judicial system ever, and no rational, sane person can say that a $1.2 million fine for disobeying COVID-19 mitigation efforts that have now been found to be wildly ineffective is anything but judicial vengeance.
Calvary Chapel sued the county, arguing the health orders violated its religious freedom. Various courts have ruled either in favor the church or the county.
The church and its pastors were previously held in contempt of court and fined for violating limits on indoor public gatherings. But a state appellate court reversed those decisions last year, saying that the restrictions on indoor worship services were stricter than for secular activities such as going to grocery stores.
The county continued to seek fines for violations of mask-wearing regulations.
The judge wrote an opinion that was so 2020.
“It should appear clear to all — regardless of religious affiliation — that wearing a mask while worshiping one’s god and communing with other congregants is a simple, unobtrusive, giving way to protect others while still exercising your right to religious freedom,” Superior Court Judge Evette D. Pennypacker wrote in the April 7 ruling imposing the fines.
The judge was doin’ the time warp with County Counsel James Williams.
“The county’s response to the pandemic, including the health officer’s public health orders and enforcement against entities that refused to follow the law, saved thousands of lives and resulted in one of the lowest death rates of any community in the United States,” Williams said.
That there’s no evidence for that is immaterial. It sounds wonderful.
But this is all about obedience and Calvary refused to obey and encouraged others to disobey. The church, Judge Pennypacker wrote, flouted public health orders “and urged others to do so ‘who cares what the cost,’ including death.”
Take that, you devout Christians, you.
That bit about “who cares what the cost including death” is not applying any law — it’s a rhetorical flourish in a legal opinion that doesn’t belong. Pennypacker is way off the reservation by claiming that the Calvary church leaders didn’t care if people died. That’s a ludicrous statement and reveals the judge’s anger that her previous orders were not obeyed.
Anger has no place in a legal opinion.
This one will make its way through the courts and may even wind up at the Supreme Court. What’s certain is that these fines are meant to retaliate against a group of people who defied public health orders.