Some California churches are holding indoor religious practices despite a restraining orders from the county to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
In Ventura County's Newbury Park, Pastor Rob McCoy led three services at Godspeak Calvary Chapel, defying the restraining order from the county.
It is significant that these services were held in defiance of coronavirus health orders to protect members of the public from exposure to the deadly virus.
"We said 'no' to the restraining order, we're open," said McCoy. "I'm not being disobedient to the judge's order, I'm being obedient to God's order."
In the livestreams of the services, many people including McCoy himself were without a mask during.
McCoy was aware of the Ventura County Superior Court Judge, Matthew Guasco's restraining order, and the count's lawsuit against the church.
"Lord, we're not here to endanger our community," Said McCoy in his prayer. "We're here because the church is essential."
According to a declaration filed by the county health officer, McCoy repeatedly disobeyed court orders designed to limit the spread of the disease and failed to meet many requests for the follow-ups.
Officials said the church's ability to spread the disease is particularly concerning, and churches have been repeatedly warned to keep all gatherings separate, segregated, and restricted.
The lawsuit was filed against McCoy and the church last Sunday after the services. No incidents or arrests were reported.
"On a scale of one to 10 of the most immediate irreparable harm possible, this is a 10," said Guasco. "They have continued to violate the law and have caused significant public health and safety concerns."
State health officials say that singing increases the risk of transmission of the virus. The judge said in a statement that McCoy's preaching without a mask and the congregations singing to McCoy for his birthday are the most likely ways that people will be infected with the deadly virus and that he is endangering public health.
In response, McCoy has argued that officials have unlawfully targeted him and his church for closure, and there hasn't been a confirmed case among worshipers.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. reached 5 million on the day services were held, the highest rate compared to any country.