The senior pastor of a church in California is begging Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow the church members to congregate in their building for Easter after the state has fined them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Pastor Jack Trieber of North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California, which has been meeting outdoors since the county government fined them more than $100,000 for continuing to meet inside last year, pleaded with state authorities to relent in a recent video.
“Governor Newsom, I implore you to open up our churches Easter Sunday, April 4,” Trieber said. “This is Sunday, early in the morning, and we’re freezing out here. We’re cold. We’ve been obeying for 366 days, one year and one day. We’ve shut our church down. We’re meeting in the parking lot. We’re meeting in open-air meetings and we have tents everywhere.”
“We need our church open,” Trieber continued, explaining how inclement weather has forced his parishioners to listen to his sermons from their cars. Going on to recount how he and his wife have endeavored to be “good residents” of Santa Clara for 45 years while encouraging their parishioners to be the same, he said the state’s restrictions on them have grown untenable.
“We’re out here literally freezing in the winter,” he said. “Through hail this past week, as people sat here, and through rain. And we are very hot in the summer. Yet we have a 3,000-seat auditorium that sits empty.”
“In addition to Easter, we gave you Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We gave you July 4th. We gave you Labor Day. We gave you all the summer, we gave you all the spring, we gave you all of the fall.” Noting how his congregation sacrificed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day in deference to Newsom, Trieber said to him, “Enough is enough, sir.”
An associate pastor with North Valley Baptist Church explained the church’s predicament to The Daily Wire last fall:
North Valley Baptist Church’s associate pastor Justin Cooper laid out their situation in an interview with The Daily Wire, explaining how the church was at first compliant with public health orders until they dragged out indefinitely.
“So, as you know, it’s been six months going on,” Cooper said. “After 14 weeks, we decided to come back into our building.” Cooper went on to explain how the county has continued to hound them to the point that there’s “over 13 or 14 different pieces of paper taped to the entrances to the facilities that the county continues to post.”
Cooper said that Santa Clara County, whose public health officials show up and then quickly disappear during each Sunday morning service, has started charging his church “$5,000 per day — not days that we meet, but just days that we exist.”
The county’s rationale for fining the church, Cooper said, is that the church has allegedly not submitted a COVID-19 protocol, which would necessitate that they not hold services.
Santa Clara County did not respond to a request for comment.
Cooper said that despite the pressure from the county, their congregation is resilient. “The amazing thing about it is the spirit of our church and services has actually improved,” he said.