Judge holds Newbury Park church, pastor in contempt for holding indoor services despite restraining order

NEWBURY PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- A Newbury Park church was fined $3,000 and, along with its pastor, was held in contempt of court Friday for refusing to stop holding indoor church services despite a temporary restraining order and public health orders prohibiting them.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent O'Neill did not impose any fines on Pastor Rob McCoy who led the services at Godspeak Calvary Chapel.

McCoy, who has been adamant about holding the services inside, took the stand in his and the church's defense Friday.

"I didn't want this but I am a pastor. We live in a nation that allows us to worship and that's why we're doing what we're doing," he said.

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Tensions boiled over outside a Newbury Park church that held indoor worship services Sunday morning despite a judge's orders.

Prosecutor Jaclyn Smith told the judge the pastor and the church were not an exception to a health department order that states indoor church services are not allowed.

"They're allowed to disagree with the court's order but there are consequences for acting in violation of a court order," she said.

Outside the courtroom, McCoy told Eyewitness News he had been concerned he would be arrested, but he wasn't.

"We're standing in defense of a government's overreach and a government that would call the church non-essential. It's a small price to pay and I'm good with it," McCoy said.

When asked why the church should be allowed to conduct indoor services, its attorney cited the First Amendment.

"The first liberty is the free exercise of religion. That is what makes a church different. That is what makes a newspaper different. That's what makes a television studio different," said attorney Richard Tyler.

When asked whether the church would hold indoor services this upcoming Sunday, Pastor McCoy smiled at ABC7 reporter Sid Garcia but didn't answer the question.
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