A church in Pasadena is facing criminal threats from its city – something one Christian attorney maintains is unconstitutional.
Liberty Counsel’' Mat Staver recently told "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins" that his firm has received a letter from the Pasadena Prosecutors Office to Pastor Ché Ahn of Harvest Rock Church saying the church will face a $1,000 fine for every day it meets and a criminal charge punishable by up to a year in prison.
"Each day in violation is a separate violation and carries with it punishment up to one year in jail and a fine for each violation," the letter states. "Your compliance with these orders is not discretionary, it is mandatory. Any violations in the future will subject your church, owners, administrators, operators, staff, and parishioners to the above-mentioned criminal penalties as well as the potential closures of your church."
"It doesn't just apply to the pastor … but to the staff, anybody who works with the church, and any parishioner who dares walk through the doors of that church to worship God," Staver reported.
Liberty Counsel, with a federal lawsuit pending, sent a response Monday to the Pasadena prosecutor's office.
Staver pointed out on the radio program that Pasadena, like California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), is crushing churches, even home Bible studies and fellowship with anyone who is not a resident of the home.
"At the same time, the city of Pasadena allows hundreds and hundreds of people to protest, and the governor allows tens of thousands, even up to 100,000 in the city of LA, to protest," the attorney noted. "Not only does he allow this, he says, 'God bless you; keep doing it.'"
In a second California county, Venutura, Pastor Rob McCoy of Godspeak Calvary Chapel was found in contempt last Friday for holding indoor services. Judge Vincent O'Neill Jr issued the ruling, fining the church $3,000.
Speaking on the “Washington Watch” program in another segment, Pastor McCoy said the church was suprised to learn health officers had written a 61-page report that faulted the church for failing to follow social distancing rules and to ignore mask wearing.
"A congregant took a picture of these three health officers," McCoy said, "in a car together not wearing masks."
Pastor McCoy said the court fine was a small price to pay for liberty.
"They asked for attorneys' fees but he wasn't inclined to give that," said McCoy about the judge's ruling. "Of course, this Sunday we were again in violation of the restraining order, and we were wide open."
All things considered, Staver views this as government criminalizing Christianity, and he believes it has reached the point to say, "Enough is enough."
"This is not the jurisdiction of the state, either biblically, historically, or constitutionally," he submits.
Many people do not seem to understand why pastors and churches are not content to worship at home during the ongoing pandemic.
"In 80 percent of the population, it's a no worship ban," Staver points out about California. "And for the other 20 percent, it's no singing or chanting."
All of that, he says, is unconstitutional.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments from Pastor Roy McCoy.