SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — In the face of an injunction and a contempt ruling from a judge, Christmas Eve services were still a go inside San Jose’s Calvary Chapel Thursday night, with people filing in – many maskless – to worship.
“We can’t just forget about the constitution. People have first amendment rights,” said Mariah Gondeiro, Calvary Chapel’s attorney. “We shouldn’t just get to pick and choose when those rights are suspended and I think the Supreme Court has been very clear about it.”
The church off Almaden Expressway has been having indoor services since August, in violation of the county’s health order.
Even with COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County reaching new heights and stock of open ICU beds running low, the worship service will go on. A woman who only wished to be identified as Katy started attending Calvary Chapel during the pandemic and will be attending Christmas Eve services.
“I go to this church. We haven’t had a single COVID case. I think God is allowing this. Psalm 91 – it is in the book,” she told KPIX 5.
“It’s beyond disappointing, the situation there is shameful,” said Santa Clara County counsel James Williams said Wednesday of the church’s decision to continue indoor services. “We will continue to pursue enforcement against their law-breaking activities.”
The church has also racked up nearly $1 million in fines that the county says it intends to collect on.
“I think the fines are just egregious, punishment has to be proportionate to the severity of the harm and as I said they haven’t contributed to any known cases,” Gondeiro said.