All they did was meet together for worship in obedience to the Word of God. Then the government started fining them. Now, officials have shown up with a warrant and are interrogating their employees. The worst part of all is that the Supreme Court has twice ruled in favor of Calvary Chapel San Jose, yet still state and local governments are harassing them.
First it was California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who clung to one of the nation's strictest lockdowns far longer than science or prudence could justify. Eventually, the Supreme Court intervened to end what had been nearly a year-long ban on indoor worship. But while churches opened elsewhere in the state, officials in Santa Clara County declared "indoor gatherings of all kinds remain very risky." Six justices curtly overruled the county's worship ban, perhaps annoyed by the brazen way in which the county flaunted its earlier decision.
But the county still wants to extort its pound of flesh. It insists the church must pay $3.8 million in bogus fines because the church refused to comply with the unlawful worship bans. The county has also threatened the church's bank and mortgage holder if those private companies don't aid the county in retaliating against the church. It also demanded the church turn over the names of members, volunteers, and donors (which would expose the church to everything from official government harassment to unofficial "doxing"), as well as "financial records to prove the church just opened 'for the money."
Then, earlier in December, a third governmental entity entered the ring against the church. California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (the state's version of OSHA) knocked on the door with a search warrant, adopting the political vendetta as its own.
"They got a warrant from the court to come investigate and interrogate the employees," said Bob Tyler, the church's lawyer. Pastor Mike McClure added that the investigation is "not just the...typical OSHA stuff," but explores every aspect of the church's COVID policies, including a Christian school run by the church. The county is on a fishing expedition for something it can use to punish the church. "We are constantly, I think, just under this watchful eye," he said.
"As Christians, we have to count the cost today," said McClure. "We just want to worship like churches are and have been doing in this country," but we are more likely today to face "threats and persecution."
Especially amid a culture of fear and meaninglessness, people are hungry for the "full assurance of faith" found only in Christ. "Not neglecting to meet together," Calvary Chapel San Jose has seen its membership quadruple to 3,000 during the pandemic, including 500 baptisms.
Governments may conspire against Christ by conspiring against his people. But, far from being threatened, "the Lord holds them in derision." He will establish his kingdom on earth as in heaven, and wise rulers will take heed not to oppose the King of Kings.
Joshua Arnold is the media coordinator at Family Research Council.
Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on the Family Research Council.