The Pacific Justice Institute has announced it has secured a six-figure damage award for five California churches that were closed by Santa Clara County’s Covid-19 public health orders.
The churches represented – in a joint effort with the Cannistraci Law Firm and McAllister Law Group – are Gateway City Church, The Home Church, The Spectrum Church, Orchard Community Church, and Trinity Bible Church.
On February 26, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the emergency writ of injunction in a 6-3 decision, allowing the churches to open their doors to hold indoor worship services. The Supreme Court agreed with Pacific Justice that the County’s orders discriminated against churches by treating establishments such as grocery stores and airports more favorably.
As CBN News reported last December, Santa Clara County is still defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling and is targeting a San Jose church and its pastor with massive fines for holding church services in 2020 during the pandemic.
Calvary Chapel and its pastor Mike McClure are facing $2.8 million in fines for not shutting down the church’s worship services and for allowing people to come to pray at their building in person after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ordered statewide church closures in 2020.
County officials are still demanding the church pay the fines, arguing that it violated its health orders regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in five separate cases that the government cannot treat houses of worship as second-class institutions with harsh penalties and restrictions that exceed the restrictions placed on “essential” businesses….
they’re getting a 6 figure settlement but they’re facing a 7 figure fine….other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Five churches got the settlement, and a different church still faces the fine.
I believe the church facing the fine has different attorneys.
I hope the fines are nullified. But except for attorneys fees I hope the Churches do not get damages, otherwise they prove that their churches are all about money. Most churches already got federal dollars under the COVID relief packages.
They should get full damages because Democrat politicians need to learn not to infringe on religious Constitutional rights of citizens and churches. Of course, the Democrats will pay with taxpayer money instead of out of their own pockets. Real justice would be making the Democrat politicians pay from their own money and impeaching them from their government offices.
I know one of the pastors of one of those churches and several members. They are not “all about money.”
For some perspective, Federal records show Calvary Chapel San Jose collected $340,400 in forgivable loans from the US Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as part of the CARES ACT COVID relief package. Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County (same county) took $4,899,900 from the Paycheck Protection Program. The Diocese of San Bernardino took $5,522,000. The San Francisco Symphony took more than $8 million. Baker’s Burgers in Riverside got $4,900,000. And, Big Abortion was a big beneficiary; 38 Planned Parenthood affiliates have received “over $83 million” in PPP loans. “Affiliates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (‘Planned Parenthood’), a national organization with central control over its affiliates which has nearly $2 billion in assets, are continually able to obtain loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) when Small Business Administration (SBA) rules and guidance has made it clear that they are ineligible for such funds,” as reported by the Washington Examiner.
One might question the government’s role in COVID forgivable paycheck loans to churches or any other entities, but these churches are not “all about money” any more than other churches and certainly not more than private business and Big Abortion, all of whom received such funding.
As noted above, Calvary Chapel was not represented by the Pacific Justice Institute and the Cannistraci Law Firm, involved in the settlement. Of the churches they represented, the pastor of one is an attorney and Ms. Cannistraci is related to pastors of another. They have a history of being advocates of religious liberty, but are not as vocal and public about it as Calvary Chapel. It seems, at least in part, the County is going after Calvary Chapel in particular because of their public and outspoken opposition to the mandates of its unelected health officer. Calvary Chapel actually grew during COVID because they were one of the few churches that remained open, and did so publicly. I don’t think their position and policies were the most prudent, but, they didn’t entirely surrender to county government bureaucrats, as did Catholic parishes.
What will Catholic dioceses do the next time the government prohibits gatherings?
The bishops leading the Catholic church in California will cave to government decree each and every time. Bishop Cantu only a few weeks ago removed the dispensation.