On Sunday, Godspeak Calvary Chapel and Pastor Rob McCoy held services, violating a temporary restraining order enforcing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-Calif.) ban on in-person gatherings. The church reportedly hit capacity and had to leave some parishioners outside. Others came to support the church’s worship while a few pro-lockdown protesters gathered to face the crowd. As observers noted there were no police in sight to enforce the restraining order, a disgruntled woman took to social media to tattle on the church to the local sheriff.
“Here outside Godspeak church this morning in Newbury Park, where the parking lot is filling up fast. Despite a temporary restraining order being put in place Friday, hundreds are showing up this morning for services. Services are planned for 9, 11 and 1,” Kyle Jorrey, editor at the Thousand Oaks Acorn, tweeted with a video of parishioners arriving.
A large group of church supporters arrived with signs reading, “Church: More Essential Than Marijuana Shops and Abortion Clinics,” “Spiritual Health Is Essential,” “Where The Spirit Of The Lord Is, There Is Freedom,” and “Free California.” In a similar case involving Grace Community Church Pastor John MacArthur, Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund lawyer Charles LiMandri noted that Gov. Newsom has supported Black Lives Matter protesters and is not extending the same lockdown rules he applies on churches to marijuana dispensaries, retail outlets, and abortion clinics.
Some claimed that “thousands” came out to support religious liberty, although the crowd does not seem that large.
Supporters broke out into hymns.
A small group of pro-lockdown protesters also arrived. They held signs reading, “God Can Hear You At Home, Don’t Be Free-Dumb,” “Jesus Loves You, Rob McCoy Loves Himself,” and “This Church Endangers Us All.”
A small scuffle broke out between the pro-church protesters and the pro-lockdown protesters.
Although the church knowingly violated a restraining order and Pastor McCoy warned his congregation that the first 1,000 people to attend would get a misdemeanor citation, the police appear to have been absent.
“No police, no county officials I can see here at the moment,” Jorrey tweeted.
A woman took to Twitter in an attempt to notify Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub and the Thousand Oaks Sheriff’s station about the incident. “Hello [Thousand Oaks station] & [Bill Ayub]… what is happening with the enforcement of the temporary restraining order currently being violated by Rob McCoy/Godspeak Calvary that was put into place this past week?” she asked.
As of Sunday afternoon, it appears the local government took no action to prevent the services nor to slap Godspeak and McCoy with citations — yet.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.