The North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California, was fined $10,000 for endangering lives on Aug. 21 by holding two indoor services — that seat 3,000 people each — which violated COVID-19 state safety orders, reported the Christian Post.
The church was also cited by Santa Clara County for “failing to prevent those attending, performing and speaking at North Valley Baptist’s services from singing.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained on its website how singing spreads the coronavirus:
Following a 2.5-hour choir practice attended by 61 persons, including a symptomatic index patient, 32 confirmed and 20 probable secondary COVID-19 cases occurred (attack rate = 53.3% to 86.7%); three patients were hospitalized, and two died. Transmission was likely facilitated by close proximity (within 6 feet) during practice and augmented by the act of singing.
During a Facebook video on Aug. 24, Senior Pastor Jack Trieber called the county’s decision to punish North Valley Baptist for worshiping “out of bounds”:
We’re trying to help people that are sick. So we have a situation here where the county health director said now, “I’m in charge of the health.” And God bless you. You’re not elected, but God bless. We appreciate you.
But I’m in charge of the spiritual health of the people in this city and in this area. 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...
I plead with you, back off. Open up the spiritual environment of this valley immediately because we’re going to see chaos. I’m not threatening that we’re going to create chaos … but I am willing to take a stand...
You can’t have any law against assembling in God’s house. None. I know we have a Constitutional right to worship, but we have a Higher Power that we answer to. I have a biblical mandate. We have obeyed authority in this church. We’ve always obeyed authority. But when local authority begins to disregard this authority, we go with this book right here.