New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham targeted two churches for holding Christian Eve services by fining them $10,000 each for violating tightened state social distancing restrictions she imposed about a week previously.
After Legacy Church and Calvary Church posted videos that went viral of their congregants worshipping – which TheBlaze described as “showing hundreds of parishioners gathered singing Christmas carols during Christmas Eve services” on their social media pages – the local news drew attention to the gatherings, which reportedly spurred Grisham to levy her fines.
The governor’s office imposing the fines labeled the churches’ leaders as “pro-virus,” according to the Daily Wire.
Media tag-teaming with the state against churches …
KOAT-TV – a local ABC affiliate covering the Albuquerque area – reported that Legacy and Calvary violated Grisham’s new limitations she placed on churches on December 15, calling the Christmas Eve services posted on the churches’ Instagram accounts “massive unmasked” events flaunting the so-called crimes of “few masks, big crowds and singing.”
“Both churches face up to a $10,000 fine – $5,000 for violating the public health order limiting houses of worship to 25% capacity and another $5,000 for violating the mask mandate.,” KOAT-TV reported Tuesday. “The video from Legacy showed hundreds gathered in a building singing, ‘Silent Night,’ with few masks in site. The video was taken down by Sunday.
The station implied that Legacy’s youth group flagrantly left the video up longer and credited itself for the ministry’s subsequent “correction.”
“However, as of Monday, the church’s Youth Ministry account, Young and Unashamed, still had a video of their service posted,” KOAT noted. “It was taken down after KOAT posted the story Monday evening.”
Taking the role of assessor of the crackdown, KOAT conceded that after viewing several photos Calvary Church posted online of its Christmas Eve service that they “did appear to show a few more masks.”
KOAT impressed that Bernalillo County is still, “red” which it implies is the reason why the state “permits all houses of worship to limit their capacity to 25%.”
Why target us?
In response to the Democratic governor’s continued attack on churches, Legacy Church called the state government out for its discriminatory and unlawful overreach.
"We have taken the pandemic seriously from the start, and have prudent measures in place,” Legacy declared in a public statement obtained by KOAT. “But when governments exceed their constitutional authority and contradict what we are called on by God to do, we answer first to His authority."
Legacy is amazed by the governor’s attack in the face of all it is doing to help those adversely affected by her lockdowns.
"It's tragic that [despite] what we do for thousands of shut-ins, those in despair, and kids who go without meals, [we] get no state notice, but fixation on one service [that] can net us large fines,” Legacy Church expressed in an additional statement submitted to KOAT, which said the church called its gatherings peaceful protests. “The state should fold its losing hand against churches as Colorado has, focus on the truly vulnerable, and recognize what the U.S. Supreme Court has recently said about churches because we must continue to do what we are called to."
Calvary Church insisted that it took many precautions to make its sanctuary COVID-safe.
“[After a large Christmas Eve service turnout, we] chose not to break fellowship with any worshiper by requiring them to leave the gathering of their church family,” Calvary told KOAT. “Instead, we continued to urge and provide opportunity for our congregants to maintain safe social distance, wear face coverings and properly sanitize."
Government attacking churches
But far-left Gov. Grisham’s director of communications, Tripp Stelnicki, sternly rebuked the churches as if they were inciting a genocide.
"In violating both the state public health order and common sense, these two churches and their leaders endangered the lives, livelihoods and health of not only their parishioners but their entire communities – and, given how quickly this virus can spread, potentially, our state as a whole," Stelnicki stated, according to NBC. "We all wish this pandemic were over, but it’s not, and no pro-virus pastor may deem it so. So many New Mexicans have sacrificed – and lost – so much in this pandemic, [and] these illegal and selfish gatherings will directly contribute to more suffering and illness in our state. These church leaders should reflect on the danger they’ve unleashed in their communities."
KOAT backed up the governor’s crackdown on singing, emphasizing how so-called “pandemic health experts” sent out warnings about the dangers of “group choral singing,” insisting that “droplets and aerosols” discharged during singing supposedly pose a “high infection risk.”
On Wednesday, the churches were reportedly given five days by the state to contest the state fines.