CA church reacts to restraining order with packed pews

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Chris Woodward (

police officer issuing ticketAnother defiant California pastor is making headlines for violating COVID-19 restrictions but this time a judge has stepped in to punish him and anyone who gathers under the church roof.

A temporary restraining order has been granted against Godspeak Calvary Chapel and its pastor, Rob McCoy. The order was granted by a Ventura County judge after the local government sued McCoy and his church for holding in-person services of up to 200 people.

State and local and officials have banned large gatherings as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19. According to The Christian Post, the church has been following the social distancing guidelines until just recently.

Reacting to the restraining order on The Todd Starnes Show, attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel called it a stunning move.

"The judge issued a restraining order against him, the church, and one through 1,000 John Does," said Staver. "He issued the order and said ‘anyone acting in concert with any of these individuals.'"

According to Staver, this is the first time that there has been such an order placed against a church.

McDowell to pastors: Your hurting flock needs your counseling more than ever

Steve Jordahl (

The fallout from the COVID-19 lockdown is coming and a prominent Christian author-apologist says the Church needs to start preparing.

Josh McDowell says our families, neighbors, and co-workers haven been neck deep in several social illnesses – loneliness, depression, mental illness, and pornography -- for years.

“And what has happened with the lockdown – with the stress, the fear, the unknown – it's magnified all four of these things,” he warns.

McDowell, who speaks often to teens and young adults, says he is particularly concerned for Generation Z, who are those born between the mid-1990s to the early 2010s. That is because, he says, they have been steeped in a secular, relativistic culture that makes it hard to reason objectively. 

“Today, truth is being more determined by one's emotions or feelings rather than objective evidence,” he explains. “If your orientation is feelings, then when you have a lockdown like this, everything that relates to your feelings is magnified.”  

So how does the Church address this? Pastors need to be studying and researching how to counsel a wounded, hurting culture.

“They've got to know how to deal with these things," he says.

"The John Does, the in-concert language, means that anybody who dares go into that church building, at any time in the future, until this judge gives his blessing, will be held in contempt of court," Staver advised. "There's already penalties and fines of $1,000 a day, and now this contempt that would hold over you, for going into the building for worship or prayer, would result in you going to jail as well under this court's order. This has never happened before in America."

The pastor had said the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to take action against the church in a county of 846,000 residents with only 77 deaths to date, which he pointed out is a death rate of .009 percent. 

Last Friday, Pastor McCoy announced in a video message that he planned to continue holding indoor services. Staying true to his word, McCoy and Godspeak Calvary Chapel held services on Sunday.


"Come to church, and if you're one of the first thousand, you win a prize," McCoy said in the video. "You will get a citation. It will be a misdemeanor. It will go on your record. Be mindful of that."

No arrests were made, however, but that may change according to the judge's decision.

Judge hears both sides at hearing 

According to California newspaper reporter Becca Whitnall, a hearing was held Tuesday morning to discuss the contempt charge. Robert Tyler, an attorney for Godspeak and the pastor, said the county's punishment is an overreaction and compared it to Japanese internment camps.

Jaclyn Smith, an attorney for the county, meanwhile, asked the court to order the county sheriff to close the church property, a request that was denied by the judge, Whitnall reported in a Twitter thread.

Following today's hearing, Whitnall reported a contempt hearing is now scheduled for Friday, August 21.   

Staver says he talked with the pastor and was informed that 2,500 attended the worship service -- and that wasn't the entire story. 

"The building doesn't hold 2,500 people. So these people stayed outside, " Staver told the radio program. “Part of this group was another church that drove two hours to this church to be the first 1,000 people to be arrested so that the people inside could have their worship services."

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with a court hearing report from reporter Becca Whitnall, who reported on the hearing via Twitter. 


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