California

California ignores Supreme Court rulings, seeks $2.8M in fines against church – calling services a “public nuisance”

California ignores Supreme Court rulings, seeks $2.8M in
fines against church – calling services a “public nuisance” 1

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA – According to a press release from Advocates for Faith & Freedom, Santa Clara County is attempting to classify a local church as a “businesses” and/or “commercial activity” in an effort to extract fines totaling $2.8 million for “holding unlawful indoor gatherings” during the pandemic.

The press release from August 31st noted the following:

“Local church, Calvary Chapel, has filed a demurrer to dismiss Santa Clara County’s First Amended Complaint which claims the church’s worship services are a public nuisance and seeks 2.8 million in fines.”

The legal back-and-forth between the county and Calvary Chapel began back in June of 2020, when Pastor Mike McClure of Calvary Chapel San Jose and Pastor Micaiah Irmler of Southridge Church of San Jose filed a lawsuit against Santa Clara County over the stay-at-home order issued in May of 2020 that effectively banned indoor worship services.

Within the June 2020 filed brief, attorneys for the church noted the hypocrisy of the county noting that the right to gather in the thousands and protest was a protected activity – but going to church wasn’t:

“The County has publicly acknowledged that the right to attend protests regarding racial injustice is a ‘fundamental right that is critical to the health of our democracy,’ yet it has not acknowledged the fundamental right to attend worship services.”

Come October of 2020, the county turned around and sued the church.

In a December 2020 release from the Santa Clara County Public Health department, it was noted that the suit was filed over the church still having congregants attend services indoor and that a temporary restraining order was placed against the church in November:

“In October, County of Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams and District Attorney Jeff F. Rosen filed the lawsuit against Calvary and McClure for repeatedly holding indoor gatherings—often with hundreds of unmasked congregants—that violated the State and County Health Officers’ public health orders. 

The court granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) on November 2, but Calvary and McClure have repeatedly defied the TRO since it was issued.”

Both the church and Pastor McClure were found to be in contempt in December and the church was ordered to pay fines for every instance they had violated the temporary restraining order. Yet, this December ruling came after the Supreme Court already ruled in November that indoor worship services cannot be banned.

And then another SCOTUS ruling came in February of 2021, which specifically addressed that California cannot ban indoor worship services.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until April that the state finally lifted the limitations in church services after having to face of two SCOTUS rulings finding the mandates to be unconstitutional.

Yet, despite the aforementioned, Santa Clara County is trying to still extract the millions in fines against the church that were imposed under unconstitutional mandates – by way of claiming that the church fell within the scope of a “business” or “commercial activity” when violating the previous mandates.

Tony Black, an attorney representing Calvary Chapel, stated the following about the county’s efforts:

“No matter where you stand politically on the COVID-19 issue, I think all Americans can agree it’s outrageous for Santa Clara County to seek $2.8 million dollars in fines against a church under the classification of a commercial entity.”

“This is especially true when, over the last year, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held it was unconstitutional for the government to prohibit churches from holding worship services.”

Calvary Chapel is asking the court to dismiss the public nuisance claim that Santa Clara County has raised in their complaint, with the church arguing that the county can’t even find a “connecting element” or a “causative link” to the church’s services and harm done to the general public.

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Pastor who resisted church lockdowns gets home broken into, hit with 1,500 death threats

(Originally published July 13th, 2021)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pastor Brian Gibson, who owns multiple churches in Texas and Kentucky, came under fire during the pandemic for violating the governors lockdown orders.

Although his message was peaceful, Gibson assisted many other pastors in defying the lockdown restrictions and helped them open their doors to parishioners again.

This made Gibson a large target for those who bought into the government’s claims that the lockdowns were for the “safety” of Americans. 

Gibson and his family have allegedly experienced various forms of harassment, including hundreds of death threats, according to an article by Ella Kietlinska and Joshua Philipp, writing for The Epoch Times.

Gibson said on EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program:

“Just for being a vocal proponent of the First Amendment, just for being someone that supported President Trump, and someone that spoke out actively, I received close to 1,500 death threats. People broke into my house, kicked my gate down, hacked all of our accounts,” 

He went on to say:

“It’s amazing what they can do and how coordinated some of these intimidation rings can really be. I think I underestimated what that would really be until it happened to me.”

Assist News Service reported Gibson and his family were threatened on social media and received intimidating phone calls or mail. It affected his three kids, aged 9 to 15, the pastor said.

Gibson said:

“My kids … weren’t able to go home for over a month. And then … we had to sell that home and relocate.”

In an attempt to escape all of the madness, Gibson said he took his family away to an isolated location in the Rocky Mountains, however people reportedly discovered where they were located, and the harassment allegedly continued while spending time in a park with his family. 

Gibson said:

“I didn’t know if they were going to try to kill me,”

He continued:

“So I went into a convenience store, sent my kids out the back through woods to where we were staying, and I went around the other side of a building—flanked this guy and found out what he was doing there [and] confronted the man.”

When speaking about the double standard that was being imposed when it came to religious gatherings, Gibson said his church in Kentucky ran a drive-thru Easter egg giveaway for kids. The Health Department told the pastor that his church would be shut down if he continued to pass out eggs, Assist News Service reported.

Gibson said the health department took issue with this, despite the fact that there were:

“less than 10 people working, gloved and masked, giving an egg to a kid in the name of Jesus,” 

He continued:

“They’re letting the liquor stores do drive-thru sales. They’re letting the fast food places do that. The Lowe’s is full of people, Home Depot’s full of people, all the big box stores right?” 

He added:

“It blew a fuse in me. I called all the local media [and] told them: ‘I’m going to defy the governor’s orders. Here’s when I want to do it, here’s how I’m going to do it. Have them come arrest me.’ And I was looking to get arrested for Jesus.”

He then started Peaceably Gather and rallied pastors, saying:

“I think the hand of God was guiding me. God called me for that time. And over the course of the next three weeks, 5,000 churches opened up with us.”

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LET Unity

Pastor Tim Stephens arrested on new charges of running ‘underground’ church services

(Originally published June 15th, 2021)

CALGARY, AB– On Monday, June 14th, Pastor Tim Stephens was once again arrested after members of the Fairview Baptist Church gathered for a secret worship, despite the current COVID19 mandates that are currently in place. 

This gathering took place approximately one week after their church was effectively seized by Alberta Health Services last Saturday, according to reports

In May Pastor Tim Stephens was arrested for breaching public health regulations after holding another church service without required mask usage, capacity limitations, or physical distancing.

According to, the Calgary Herald, the pastor was arrested during a service at the church, located at 230 78th Avenue S.E., that allegedly breached “public health measures and a pre-emptive injunction.” Stephens received a copy of the Court of Queen’s Bench order.

However, Alberta authorities were forced to drop other charges against Pastor Tim last month, after discovering that Alberta Health Services never served Pastor Stephens with the court order he was accused of having violated, a requirement under the order, Rebel News reported.

The old charges were dropped against the pastor, however he is now facing new charges for the same violations.

According to reports, over this past weekend, a very large crowd gathered at the undisclosed location and shared in mass services lead by Pastor Tim. While the worshiping was taking place, a police helicopter reportedly circled over head and discovered the congregation. 

Rebel News reported that it is unclear if police were actually searching for the group or simply happened upon it, as the helicopter was significantly north of the location of worship and continued towards the city.

It wasn’t until several minutes later that the helicopter returned and completed repeated passes overhead.

Shortly after the helicopter circled back, police officers were seen circling the location, however they did not attempt to interrupt the service taking place. 

While officers did allow the service to continue, Pastor Tim was arrested as his home on Monday, in front of his wife and crying children.

Video shows the pastor’s children crying and clinging to him, while officers respectfully allowed them to say goodbye, before escorting the pastor to a police car.  

Adam Soos from Rebel News posted on Twitter that Pastor Tim will remain in jail until his court appearance on June 28th.  

Pastor Tim is not the only Pastor to be arrested recently for violating COVID restrictions. Law Enforcement Today recently reported that Calgary’s Street Church’s Pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid Pawlowski were arrested and charged with “organizing an illegal in-person gathering,” according to the Calgary Police Service.

Video that captured the arrest of the two individuals showcased numerous police vehicles lined up on the side of the road as officers were handcuffing the two brothers.

The arrest of these two brothers came after a May 6th court order obtained by Alberta Health Services that imposed new restrictions pertaining to the likes of general gatherings, which includes even protests and rallies, requiring the of using face coverings, employing physical distancing and attendance limits.

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