Ventura County, California, has filed a lawsuit against Godspeak Calvary Chapel, a church in Thousand Oaks, for its decision to hold in-person, non-masked, non-socially distanced church services.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, Ventura County public health officer Dr. Robert Levin, warned that "it is only a matter of time" before the church will see a significant outbreak of COVID-19, thus endangering the entire Thousand Oaks community.
The lawsuit says Godspeak Calvary Chapel "…will cause and continue to cause great and irreparable injury to the general public, including all persons within Ventura County, by creating a significant risk of further community spread of COVID-19, including hospitalizations and deaths, which in turn is likely to result in continued and further restrictions on businesses and other operations and activities within Ventura County, detrimentally affecting the quality of life of the entire community."
According to their own statements, public health officers from the county have watched the church's livestream service in order to see how many people were in attendance, how they were seated, and for how long they remained there.
The church's senior pastor, Rob McCoy, is a former mayor of Thousand Oaks. He was serving as a city councilman before resigning when California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared churches to be "nonessential" and ordered them to stay at home.
McCoy's church had been following state guidelines until the massive protests following the death of George Floyd. After seeing the state's response to those non-socially distanced, non-masked, public gatherings, the church resumed normal indoor services.
"We would be the first to be masked and distanced, and willingly so, if this were meriting it, and it doesn't," McCoy said. "This isn't a health issue; it's an ideological issue."