Jack Trieber, the pastor of North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California that was fined over $50,000 for holding indoor worship services said in a video statement that even as the county increases penalties, the church will remain open for service.
On Tuesday, September 1st, Trieber shared that Santa Clara County had posted another warning on the door of the church and is fining the church $5,000 for each in-person service that it holds.
The county warned of fines for each of the three services throughout the week: two on Sunday and one on Wednesday. In addition, the county threatened fines for not social distancing and singing.
Trieber read from the Bill of Rights in his video statement: "Congress shall make no law - no law - [respecting] the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," he said.
He went on to call the county's actions "harassment," warning fellow Americans, "If we don't stop it here ... it's going to sweep all over the United States of America. Government cannot take away our freedom. You cannot take our right to assemble."
Trieber spoke directly to the American people, "We are not closing down this church. I hope you get this message. I don't know what the consequences on your part is going to be. ... I know America does not want this to happen in her country and at this church. God bless you, America. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your encouragement."
County authorities had previously posted a notice to the church door, demanding that North Valley Baptist cease their activities while warning that "failure to do so will result in enforcement action by the county."
The county fined the church $10,000 after alleging that social distancing was not being enforced.
In a video response after the first fine, Trieber said that punishing the church for holding services was "out of bounds."
After Governor Gavin Newsom levied a complete ban on worship services back in March, North Valley Baptist ceased in-person services across all ministries and also stopped running its many community services.
However, Trieber pushed back and appealed to government officials in a statement: "But I'm in charge of the spiritual health of the people in this city and in this area," he said. "I've been trying to do it for 45 years. Though health is [of the] utmost importance, spiritual health is supreme. Because we've been locked out in this county of churches, suicide is up, domestic violence, addiction is up, homelessness is up, alcoholism is up. We need to get back to worshiping God. I am commanded to worship God."
Trieber called out the perceived hypocrisy of Newsom's public messaging as well. "Yet, Gov. Newsom supports tens of thousands of protestors, saying 'God bless you. Keep doing it.' This is wrong, and the governor's unconstitutional hostility and discrimination against religious worship must end," he said.
Further criticism in a statement from Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver called Newsom's orders "unconstitutional" and stated that North Valley Baptist Church is suffering "horrendous fees for simply exercising its First Amendment right to worship."
Other California churches have incurred fines for violating orders from Gov. Gavin Newsom that disallow in-person services in higher-risk parts of the state.
According to the ChristianPost, last week, Los Angeles County notified Grace Community Church, led by Pastor John MacArthur, that it would be evicted from the property it uses as a parking lot.
Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks was also hit with a fine for contempt of court for violating the state's COVID-19 health mandates.