SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — The latest ruling in a yearslong battle between Santa Clara County and Calvary Chapel in San Jose ordered the church to pay $1.2 million in administrative fines, including interest, according to a news release. The fines date back to 2020 when Santa Clara County said the church blatantly violated public health orders during the Covid-19 pandemic by continuously holding large in-door church services and not requiring face coverings or social distancing.
The church said the orders prevented it from exercising its religious freedom and violated the constitution—claim that was rejected by the judge with the courts saying, “It should appear clear to all—regardless of religious affiliation—that wearing a mask while worshiping one’s god and communing with other congregants is a simple, unobtrusive, giving way to protect others while still exercising your right to religious freedom. Unfortunately, defendants repeatedly refused to model, much less, enforce this gesture.”
This decision from the superior courts also comes after a federal court dismissed the church’s claims against the county and left the remainder of the case to be ruled by state court.
Santa Clara County said its main priority is to protect its residents and that this entire legal battle has been about accountability.
KRON4 reached out to Calvary Chapel but has not received a reply as of publication.