San Jose

Judge Orders San Jose Church to Comply With County's Coronavirus Health Orders

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A South Bay church has become the poster child for defiance, refusing to follow Santa Clara County's health orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.

When Calvary Church San Jose held indoor services with hundreds of people, with many not wearing masks or social distancing, it violated the county's health order. The county issued fines and went to court to get a temporary restraining order, trying to get the services to stop. But the county says the church held indoor services as recently as Thanksgiving eve.

On Tuesday, the county took the added step of asking a judge to grant a preliminary injunction to stop the gatherings, citing a public health threat. The judge agreed and ordered the church to comply with county health orders immediately.

Attorneys for the church said they plan to appeal.

"The orders are unconstitutional because, as the Supreme Court affirmed, you can’t treat religious services differently than essential businesses," attorney Mariah Gondeiro said.

Gondeiro argued that a recent Supreme Court decision barring restrictions on religious services in New York bolsters Calvary Chapel's case. She said the church is already facing huge fines.

"The church has already received almost $800,000 in fines," she said.

The county has argued it is a matter of protecting people from a deadly virus, but county officials declined to comment on camera Tuesday.

On Dec. 8, a judge will decide if Mike McClure, the pastor of the church, will be held in contempt of court and face arrest.

McClure did not immediately respond to NBC Bay Area's request for comment.

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