County of Santa Clara Statement  Regarding Court Ruling Allowing Civil Enforcement Action Against Calvary Chapel San Jose To Proceed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2022

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – On February 22, the Santa Clara County Superior Court issued a ruling that allows the County to proceed with its lawsuit to collect more than $2.8 million in unpaid fines levied against Calvary Chapel San Jose and its senior pastor, Mike McClure, for their defiance of State and County public health orders.  These public health orders were implemented to curb the transmission of COVID-19, which to date has killed nearly 900,000 people in the United States, including more than 2,000 in Santa Clara County.  The Court rejected Calvary and McClure’s efforts to stop the County’s lawsuit. 

“We are pleased the Court has allowed the claims against Calvary and Pastor McClure to move forward,” said James R. Williams, County Counsel, who brought the lawsuit together with District Attorney Jeff Rosen.  “The COVID-19 pandemic was and remains an unprecedented challenge for our community, and it is critical that everyone do their part to comply with the public health orders and keep each other safe.  Calvary and its leadership were uniquely defiant in their refusal to do their part, and this lawsuit aims to hold them accountable for that failure.  We continue to remain grateful for the leadership of the vast majority of religious institutions and businesses in our community that prioritized the safety of our community and complied with all relevant public health orders.”

In March 2020, the County and State responded to the COVID-19 crisis by issuing the first of a series of public health orders that followed public health risk-mitigation measures to prevent transmission and infection.  Beginning in August 2020, after issuing a warning, the County began citing and fining Calvary and McClure for their serial, egregious violations of those orders—including their refusal to require employees or congregants to wear face coverings, to submit a COVID-19 safety protocol to the County, and to prohibit indoor singing, which speeds the transmission of airborne viruses.  Despite the administrative fines and the fact that the Santa Clara County Superior Court has twice held Calvary and McClure in contempt of court for not following court orders about the public health measures, Calvary and McClure have remained undeterred by the County’s enforcement efforts, and have become unique among public health order violators, incurring millions of dollars in fines for violations that endangered their members, members’ families and friends, and the community at large.

 

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