A close up view of the top of the Godspeak Calvary Church, on a day in which services were not being held. (Photo by Parker Bohl / Prowler)
Newbury Park High School

Opinion: Godspeak Calvary Chapel and Pastor Rob McCoy must be held accountable for not adhering to health precautions

More than 12,400 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Ventura County alone, yet local pastor Rob McCoy of the Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park continuously refuses to close his church for the protection of community members. Despite the risks, he encourages people’s attendance at his church services, administered every Sunday.

Safety precautions are practically nonexistent at these services, which are held inside the chapel. Many report a lack of social distancing, and McCoy even refers to worshipers “singing, hugging, [with] no masks,” according to the L.A. Times.

Although McCoy has acknowledged the deaths caused by COVID-19, his focus has never been on the safety and health of our community.

“It’s tragic those who have died … But what’s even of greater tragedy is what the measurers of our government has done to the entirety of our community,” McCoy said to CBSLA.

It’s unsettling what little respect McCoy has for human life. He holds more value in his anger toward the measures the government has taken to keep us safe than deaths of human beings. McCoy’s morals do not align with those of our community.

Court hearings have been held following the County of Ventura suing Godspeak for being in contempt of court. In one of these hearings, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Matthew Guasco issued a temporary restraining order, citing “an immediate threat to public health and safety due to the 2019 novel coronavirus.” Hours after the hearing, McCoy announced that he would be continuing his Sunday services. He is being fined $500 per service as a result, according to the Thousand Oaks Acorn.

In defense of McCoy’s actions, worshipers are citing the 1st Amendment’s right to assemble as well as freedom of religion. Judge Guasco addressed this at a hearing.

“The Constitution is not a suicide pact,” Guasco said, according to the Thousand Oaks Acorn. “The exercise of individual liberties has to be consistent with public health.”

Others, including McCoy himself, claim that since there have been no cases at the church, there is no reason to disallow their services. However, as the CDC has reported time and time again, that asymptomatic individuals are completely capable of spreading the virus.

There is a reason practically every non-essential business remains shut down. Godspeak Calvary Chapel is not above the law.

Interestingly, none of the other churches in the area have had an issue with complying with the stay at home order. On both a local and nationwide scale, many places of worship have adapted to keep members safe by implementing podcasts, holding virtual services, and even adapting to outdoor, socially distanced services. Clearly, there isn’t an infringement on religion, yet McCoy’s actions make it appear that way for his churchgoers.

Let’s not forget the fact that McCoy was once our mayor in Thousand Oaks. A man who was once involved heavily with our community on a political level is contributing to the largest risk of COVID-19 exposure in our community. McCoy is preposterously irresponsible and his services are not only a risk to all citizens, but he continues to promote the false narrative that the virus is not as bad as it is made out to be.

McCoy is clearly not responsible enough to obey a slap on the wrist warning that has been issued by the court. He continues to willingly pay the $500 per service fine just to not heed the advice of scientists and the law. McCoy does not find the widespread discussion of his church to be a sign of him doing something wrong. Godspeak Calvary Chapel and McCoy must be held accountable for blatantly disobeying the wishes of those who have our best interests in mind, and for the safety of our community.