Church Will Fight Ventura County Threat to Shut it Down
By George Miller
County Medical Director threatens action on Calvary Chapel Godspeak’s refusal to shut down as ordered. Church responds defiantly.
Calvary Chapel Godspeak (CCTO- Newbury Park) Senior Pastor Rob McCoy does not shy away from controversy in the name of what he believes right. With no regrets, he watched congregants peel away when he took controversial and politically incorrect positions of principle on multiple social and political issues over the years. But this also attracted new supporters to the congregation and allies such as Sen Rand Paul, Senator Shannon Grove, Charlie Kirk (Turning Point). He turned down a prestigious university deanship to stay and minister to his flock. He attracted supporters who poured millions of dollars into Calvary Chapel to turn the YMCA into a new church.
He was Thousand Oaks Mayor and a Councilman. When he and church elders decided to reopen the church in defiance of government orders, he first resigned his Council office. The church was reopened with strict precautions- stricter than stores open. Around the same time, the county permitted reopening again. When the County recently ordered churches closed again, Calvary T.O. did not comply.
McCoy announced a Saturday evening online “fireside chat,” promising it would be an important announcement, vital to the church/congregation.
It seems that having the church fully open has attracted attention, leading to complaints and threats from the county to “take action”.
During the event, McCoy said County Health Director Rego Vargas contacted him and asked him if he was in compliance with the order. McCoy asked him if he had called all churches and added that they are in compliance with the First Amendment (which keeps government out of religious affairs). He wondered why BLM isn’t being prosecuted for its destructive actions.
He believes that the sick should be quarantined, not the healthy.
County Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin, who has attracted so much attention due to hyper-enforcing state guidelines, claiming the force of law, works for Vargas.
McCoy said he told Vargas to consider his “Return On Investment” in any enforcement actions and that he would vigorously contest any shutdown actions, make it difficult and ensure that it received very high visibility and “national narrative.” The county has had brutal coverage from conservative media for what sounded like threats to forcibly relocate quarantined people and from last week’s forcible lockdown of the apartment building at 137 S. Palm in Ventura.
He said he told Vargas that he might succeed in shutting the church down, but it wouldn’t go quietly and that he might even take it to the President. McCoy said they would demand the unsealing of records to show actual causes of death, testing records and people who were classified positive with no testing, that families would be asked about cause of death and this would be compared with records, claims of causes of deaths.
He told the congregation that the “gloves are off”, that they are “all lawyered up” ready for a fight and that he would hold an emergency meeting with the church elders to decide on next actions.
He noted that some other churches are also defying orders and noted their compliance with a higher authority. But he said we should not shake our fists and said he told Vargas that he was praying for him, asked that God give him wisdom and said that he stood only against his ideology, not him and that the congregation should do the same.
Meanwhile, he solicited everyone’s support and said while “the noose is tightening,” their resolve has grown stronger. He asked them to pray, to spread the word and invited all to live, in-person Sunday church services at 9, 11 and 1 tomorrow. He says he’s not sure if the county would move tomorrow or next Sunday.
Prior to making the announcement, McCoy had set the stage this evening by laying out some key points for the congregation:
- He mocked Dr. Anthony Fauci’s hypocrisy in telling people they should be wearing masks, making a big show of wearing one while making his disastrous first pitch for the Yankees game, then being spotted up in the stands in a lonely group not wearing masks. He pointed out that “the oligarchy” sets its own rules while mandating more restrictions for others and that they obviously don’t believe what they are telling us. Similar behavior has been observed with other officials and celebrities.
- He ruefully observed the Giants nearly all kneeling, compared their conformity to NAZI Germany and pointed out that BLM preaches violence, hate and Marxism.
- He berated LA Mayor Garcetti for supporting violent, anarchist, Marxist “demonstrators,” who are unrestricted in movements and association, while imposing draconian restrictions in LA.
- He attacked the LA teacher’s union for refusing to go back to work without government defunding police, stopping charter school funding, imposing a state wealth tax, and federal medicare for all.
- He said that the virus case numbers are being exaggerated and that the death numbers are plunging.
- He criticized the US Supreme Court and particularly swing vote John Roberts for ruling against Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley in Nevada to open, while permitting casinos, liquor stores, etc. open and BLM/Antifa anarchists running wild and in apparent violation without response . He showed Justice Gorsuch’s scathing minority opposition statement. What is “essential?” Is this really about safety?
Christ, not Caesar, is the head of the church
McCoy referred to a statement by John McArthur and the Elders of the Grace Community Church that Christ, not Caesar, is the head of the church. The church is the most high-visibility non-complier in the state at present,
Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services.
Although McCoy invoked the Constitution, Grace Community did not:
Notice that we are not making a constitutional argument, even though the First Amendment of the United States Constitution expressly affirms this principle in its opening words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The right we are appealing to was not created by the Constitution. It is one of those unalienable rights granted solely by God, who ordained human government and establishes both the extent and the limitations of the state’s authority (Romans 13:1–7). Our argument therefore is purposely not grounded in the First Amendment; it is based on the same biblical principles that the Amendment itself is founded upon. The exercise of true religion is a divine duty given to men and women created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27; Acts 4:18–20; 5:29; cf. Matthew 22:16–22). In other words, freedom of worship is a command of God, not a privilege granted by the state.
This will infuriate secular progressives, who see no authority of God- or even that He exists and is all-powerful.
Jonathan Leeman responded to McArthur’s essay with compromises to reduce conflict with state authorities and costs, while getting at least something. But his advice to meet outdoors or in smaller groups has also been forbidden in some jurisdictions.
Lastly, there is the thought that church defiance could result in increasing health risk to people. McCoy laid out a case suggesting that the danger has been vastly exaggerated and that he may bring evidence.
It should be an interesting debate and actions coming up.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.