California Church With Over $ 1 Million In COVID Fines Received $ 340,000 PPP Loan
California church with hundreds of attendees received just over $ 340,000 in federal paycheck protection program repayable loans while also being fined over $ 1 million for defying ordinances against holding indoor gatherings amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
Calvary Chapel San Jose continued with an indoor Christmas Eve service despite the Santa Clara County public health order against such gatherings, NBC Bay Area reported Thursday evening. The northern California church had previously been fined more than $ 1 million for previous violations of state health ordinances. Meanwhile, Calvary Chapel received a PPP loan in April of $ 340,400, about three times as many as other religious organizations in the Bay Area, according to an analysis by KGO-TV.
“It is disturbing to hear that an institution that thumbs its nose at courts and public health authorities at state and local levels simultaneously turns around and takes taxpayer money from the federal government,” l told KGO Santa Clara County Lawyer James Williams. . “It’s quite disturbing and a little ironic.”
In a statement sent by email to News weekWilliams called the church’s behavior “shameful.”
“It is shameful for this entity and its officials to seek taxpayer money while violating court orders, organizing illegal and unmasked gatherings and endangering the lives and well-being of neighbors. During this season of charity and hope, amid this severe increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations, we are grateful to the vast majority of others who have chosen the many safe ways of worship that protect lives in our community, ”he said.
In Christmas remarks Thursday night, Calvary Chapel pastor Mike McClure told his congregation that the US government was acting like that of the Roman Empire when Jesus Christ was born.
“This is what Caesar ultimately wanted, he wanted to be worshiped, much like the government today,” McClure said, according to KNTV. “But only God can be worshiped, and only God is worthy of our praise.”
The current Santa Clara County stay-at-home order, which was last revised on December 4, prohibits “all gatherings with members of other households, whether indoors or out. exterior ”. Outdoor religious services and other events for up to 100 people are permitted. But McClure and his church defied those demands, his lawyers questioning the constitutionality of county and state public health orders.
Despite concerns from local health officials, McClure’s lawyers may be right. The Supreme Court ruled at the end of November that New York’s restrictions on religious gatherings violated the constitution. In the lawsuit, brought by leaders of churches and synagogues in New York City, the majority opinion said state restrictions could not “target places of worship for particularly harsh treatment.”
It’s not entirely clear whether the Supreme Court would view the California restrictions in the same way. But the highest court this month ordered a lower court to reconsider a previous ruling upholding California’s ban on indoor religious services in light of its New York ruling. Following this directive, Los Angeles County in California revoked his ban about religious services inside. However, he said these events could only take place with “mandatory physical distancing and face coverings on the nose and mouth which must be worn at all times while on site.”
Meanwhile, California has recorded the highest number of infections of any state, with more than 2 million since the start of the pandemic, according to The New York Times‘tracker. The western state, which is also the most populous in the country, has reported the third highest death toll of any state, with nearly 24,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Over the past week, California has averaged over 40,000 new infections and over 250 deaths per day. Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, Santa Clara County has reported 61,090 infections and 3,169 deaths. Over the past seven days, the county has recorded a daily average of more than 1,200 infections.
News week contacted Calvary Chapel for comment, but they did not immediately respond.
Update December 25, 2020 at 2:36 p.m. ET: A statement from Santa Clara County attorney James Williams has been added.