Officials in Santa Clara, Calif. are going medieval on a church there that continues to hold services, reports the San Jose Mercury News, fining the church $5,000 for each service it holds and actually posting a cease-and-desist letter on the sanctuary’s door.
Among the prohibited activities in the letter: singing as a way of worship.
And what is bringing authorities down on the lawless Christians? “Several complaints and several requests to have the church be in compliance,” according to the local deputy district attorney.
That is, neighbors who don’t think a church should be operating right now.
The North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara now faces fines of $15,000 — the biggest coronavirus-related fines levied so far in Santa Clara County — for holding indoor services in violation of the county health order. The county issued the church two $5,000 fines on Aug. 23 for violations during indoor morning and evening services.
On Aug. 26 North Valley Baptist held another in-person service — and was issued another $5,000 fine.
“It appears for the moment that the fines have not stopped them from continuing the gatherings, and we’ll be looking at what other options we might have to take,” said County Counsel James Williams, who declined to comment on what those further penalties may be.
The fines follow “several complaints and several requests to have the church be in compliance,” Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Angela Alvarado told the Mercury News.
On Aug. 21, two days before the fines were issued, the county counsel’s office posted a cease-and-desist letter on the church’s door that said that North Valley Baptist was in violation of the health order for holding indoor services, failing to ensure mask wearing and social distancing indoors, singing during services and failing to submit a social distancing protocol.
“North Valley Baptist’s violations are clear, repeated and unacceptable, and they endanger the health and safety of our community,” Williams and Deputy County Counsel Jeremy Avila wrote in the letter.