A church in the US state of California has decided to change its tune on obeying the restrictions related to Covid-19 after being slapped with more than $100,000 (£80,000) in fines.
North Valley Baptist Church had defied a ban on indoor worship services and resumed services in August after initially shutting down. The church had been accused of refusing to follow social distancing guidelines — something they contest — along with singing in church and failing to wear facemasks.
However, despite refusing to stop meeting indoors for several weeks, on Sunday, senior pastor Jack Trieber changed course by moving the services to the church car park.
“I have confidence that [city officials] are going to try their best...to help to get churches open at the right time,” Trieber said during his sermon. “Your job and my job is to keep letting God fight this battle.”
In video posted to on 24th August, Trieber stated that there was "not a pandemic", but that it was a "real virus".
“I beg you, look at the stats, look at the scientists," he added. "Yes, let’s be safe, let’s be careful. But this area needs the church.”
Trieber insisted that his local area was "not a hotspot" for infections. "We were told that thousands were gonna die...but now all of a sudden we've found out that there are not 5,000 that have died in our area of 2.1 million," he said. "We've not had a thousand of people perish. We've not had four hundred or three hundred perish. By the way...one life, we know that is valuable. We've had to this day 224 pass away."
Trieber said that the cease and desist notices issued to the church by the Santa Clara County authorities were "horrifying".
"We have a First Amendment right. You can't make laws against the church," he declared. "We have the right to worship. But more than the right from the constitution, we have a command from God."