(CNS News) -- Despite a COVID-19 restraining order from Ventura County, California pastor Rob McCoy has been holding indoor church services, telling his critics, “Liberty is not man’s idea, it’s God’s idea.”
McCoy is the senior pastor of GodSpeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, California. McCoy also recently resigned from the city council after Governor Gavin Newsom (D) banned church services, saying that church is “nonessential.”
Despite Gov. Newsom’s ban, Pastor McCoy continued holding Sunday services indoors without requiring masks and social distancing. He described the atmosphere as “singing, hugging, no masks” with his approximately 200 church goers, reported The Washington Times.
Because of this, Ventura County labeled GodSpeak a health risk to the community. The county said they were an “immediate threat to public health and safety due to the 2019 novel coronavirus,” and added that they were showing “callous disregard” to health guidelines, reported The Times.
Last Friday, county officials issued a restraining order against McCoy and his church in an attempt to prevent them from gathering and worshiping on Sunday.
Ventura County said in a tweet, “A temporary restraining order has been granted requiring GodSpeak Calvary Chapel and Pastor Rob McCoy to adhere to statewide and local public health orders requiring church services to be conducted outdoors with masks and social distancing and/or online.”
Pastor McCoy responded to the “attack on religious liberty” with a video, in which he said, “I wish it didn’t have to come to this, I really do, but we will be violating the judge’s order. We will be open this Sunday.”
“We want to worship. And we’re going to worship,” he said, as reported in The New York Daily News.
And worship they did. On Sunday, the church was nearly filled to capacity. As Pastor McCoy gazed out at his congregation, he said, “I’m seeing a room full of people who realize that liberty is not a man’s idea, it’s God’s idea.”
California Pastor Rob McCoy holds indoor service at @GodSpeakCCTO , despite a local restraining order not to do so. "I'm seeing a room full of people who realize that liberty is not man's idea, it's God's idea." In America today: you can now be fined for showing up to church! pic.twitter.com/f5lZbnGjgj— David Brody (@DavidBrodyCBN) August 10, 2020
Health officials were quick to predict that a COVID-19 outbreak would happen among the church-goers, and a lawsuit was filed against the church.
The lawsuit stated that the “chapel and McCoy, in public statements, have represented that they will continue to violate the State Stay at Home Order and the Local Health Order by conducting, participating in, and attending indoor worship services at the Property, by failing to comply with the mandate of the State Public Health Officer to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing, and by permitting, allowing, and encouraging others to violate these mandates.”
“McCoy has stated that he is ‘willing to go to jail’ and is ‘willing for them to take our building,’ rather than to comply with the State Stay at Home Order and the Local Health Order,” the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit went on to say that GodSpeak holding services would “cause great and irreparable injury to the general public, including all persons within Ventura County, by creating a significant risk of further community spread of COVID-19, including hospitalizations and deaths….”
Despite some opposition, many people have spoken out in support of McCoy and GodSpeak.
Conservative activist Charlie Kirk tweeted, “In California they are releasing 16,000 criminals, thugs, and rapists from prison. But on Sunday, they might arrest Pastor Rob McCoy for holding church ...All while weed shops remain wide open for business.”
He also said, “In California—Pastors like Rob McCoy are criminalized for speaking about Jesus all while illegals are given free cash, rapists are let out of prison, and BLM is given freedom to burn, loot, riot, and terrorize.”
Actor and Director Kevin Sorbo retweeted a video of Pastor McCoy preaching on Sunday, saying, “Pastor Rob rocks!”
North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Dan Forest said, “America, pray for my friend Pastor @Rob_McCoy, as he stands against tyranny to protect #1A religious freedoms in California this morning.”