The country is starting to feel the after-effects of the pandemic, and these stretch beyond financial and economic consequences.
For example, lawsuits regarding freedom of religion versus government mandates continue to fly. Many still believe their rights were unfairly restricted and in some cases, they were unfairly punished as well.
But one California judge has ruled that such a punishment cannot stand.
In October 2020, the State of California, the County of Santa Clara, and County Health Officer Sara Cody, sued Calvary Chapel for “failure to comply” with the pandemic shutdown order.
After the state ordered the church to close, Pastor Mike McClure refused. He said in a statement that December:
I respect the judge and I respect what the law says.
But there’s a bigger law. I have to get told, you follow God or you follow man. I have to follow what God’s word says.
Of course, this didn’t stop the state from fining the church — a total of $300,000 due to non-compliance.
However, the church quickly fought back and finally, after a long wait, they’ve gotten the ruling overturned. Via The Daily Wire:
A California court has overturned $300,000 in fines against a church accused of non-compliance over COVID during the state’s pandemic shutdown.
Judge Peter Kirwan ruled in favor of Calvary Chapel San Jose in the 36-page ruling on Monday.
This decision cancels out all three charges against the congregation, which was a giant victory for people of faith.
Most Republican leaders and right-wing citizens applauded the news. California Republican candidate for Senate Mark Meuser tweeted:
Today a CA Appeals court overturned over $300k in sanctions issued against Calvery Chapel San Jose for not shutting down during COVID.
The government could not shut them down because of 1st Amendment, so a judge could not sanction for refusing to obey the order.
— Mark Meuser (@MarkMeuser) August 16, 2022
Mariah Gondeiro is a lawyer with Advocates for Faith and Freedom, and she called Pastor McClure “the poster child of COVID-19 abuse.”
She cited the Santa Clara County for trying to fine the church $2.8 million for violation of “arbitrary COVID-19 orders,” and have also tried to hold McClure in contempt twice. “This is government abuse at its finest,” she said.
The battle for religious freedom keeps playing out, even in the highest courts in the land.
Currently, numerous lawsuits remain in the works or in a “pending” status, as those who believe their rights were violated continue to fight back.