The pastor of a Baptist church in California begged state officials earlier this week to back off enforcing lockdowns on churches after his congregation received a $10,000 fine for holding two services.
Senior Pastor Jack Trieber of North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California, explained his church’s predicament and pleaded with Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom to relent his shutdown order in a Facebook video that has racked up millions of views since having been posted earlier this week.
The church was fined $5,000 for holding a morning service and $5,000 for an evening service, according to local Fox affiliate KTVU.
The church was also issued a citation for singing during their worship services, according to a statement given to The Christian Post, which reported:
The four-page letter posted on the front door of the church accused North Valley Baptist of “failing to prevent those attending, performing and speaking at North Valley Baptist’s services from singing.” In the letter, county officials revealed they had been sending agents into the church to spy on the congregation during worship services.
“This activity is unlawful,” the notice stated. “The county understands that singing is an intimate and meaningful component of religious worship. However, public health experts have also determined that singing together in close proximity and without face coverings transmits virus particles further in the air than breathing or speaking quietly.”
The county demanded that North Valley Baptist “immediately cease” their activities, warning that “failure to do so will result in enforcement action by the county.”
In the Facebook video, Trieber explained how the church at first complied with the state’s lockdown orders, which were supposed to have lasted for two weeks, but they have struggled as the lockdowns have dragged out. “We have tried to obey authority,” he said. “After 11 weeks of that, we have still continued—24 weeks—to keep it all closed, but after 11 weeks, we went back into the auditorium temporarily.”
Explaining how he preached to an empty sanctuary because they wanted “to err on the side of safety,” Trieber said they have come to the point where they have learned that their community “is not a hot spot.”
Conceding his respect for the state’s health officials, Trieber said, “But I’m in charge of the spiritual health of the people in this city and in this area. I’ve been trying to do it for 45 years. Though health is [of the] utmost importance, spiritual health is supreme. Because we’ve been locked out in this county of churches, suicide is up, domestic violence, addiction is up, homelessness is up, alcoholism is up. We need to get back to worshiping God. I am commanded to worship God.”
“I plead with you, back off,” he continued. “Open up the spiritual environment of this valley immediately because we’re going to see chaos. I’m not threatening that we’re going to create chaos … but I am willing to take a stand.”
“Yes, let’s be safe. Let’s be careful. But this area needs the church,” he added.
North Valley Baptist Church is among several California churches that have defied the state government’s orders against in-person assembly. Grace Community Church in Los Angeles has been wrangling in Los Angeles courts after Pastor John MacArthur and the church elders announced last month that they would be assembling despite the governor’s order.
As The Daily Wire reported:
Citing Christ and the Bible as the ultimate authority over his congregation, MacArthur wrote in the lengthy blog post replete with scripture that “we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.”
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