A judge selected by Democrats ordered a California church to pay $1.2 million in fines for hosting religious services and violating COVID-19 pandemic limitation restrictions.
In violation of Santa Clara County regulations, Calvary Chapel in San Jose did not require churchgoers to wear masks between November 2020 and June 2021.
In a judgment on April 7, Superior Court Judge Evette D. Pennypacker made fun of the clergy for wearing masks in defiance. No matter your religious membership, Pennypacker stated, “It should appear clear to all — regardless of religious affiliation — that wearing a mask while worshiping one’s god and communing with other congregants is a simple, unobtrusive, giving way to protect others while still exercising your right to religious freedom.”
According to Pennypacker, the church not only disobeyed mandate guidelines but also exhorted others to do the same “who cares what the cost,” including death.
Pennypacker was appointed to the Santa Clara County Superior Court Bench in 2018 by Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown.
When the pandemic limitations were originally put in place, the church tried to sue the county, claiming the regulations violated its right to exercise its religion.
The lawyer for the California church, Mariah Gondeiro, announced that an appeal of the April 7 decision will be made.
James Williams, the Santa Clara County’s attorney, praised Pennypacker’s decision. The judge “once again saw through Calvary’s unsupported claims and found them meritless,” according to Williams.
“The county’s response to the pandemic, including the health officer’s public health orders and enforcement against entities that refused to follow the law, saved thousands of lives and resulted in one of the lowest death rates of any community in the United States.”