California church says it will defy order limiting services during pandemic

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ROCKLIN, Calif. (KTXL) — Defying Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders, Pastor Greg Fairrington announced on Facebook that the chairs at Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin will still be filled with people come Sunday morning.

“I believe my mandate as a pastor is to obey the word of God. Worship is a part of what we do together as a church corporately and we need to do this. This is important that we do this,” he said. “We are not going to allow the government to use data that is not supported factually to shut the church down.”

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Placer County is one of 32 California counties told to shut down offices, indoor malls, fitness centers, personal care services, and places of worship.

Public health officials say these closures are for the safety of the whole community. Some outbreaks of COVID-19 have been traced back to religious services.

KTXL reached out to Placer County several times Tuesday to see how or if it would be taking any action to enforce the order. The county did not respond by the time this story was filed.

A spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health said in a statement, “This is a statewide requirement and flows from the same legal authority as all of the other state orders.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in May that governors can restrict attendance of religious services due to COVID-19. That means a violation could result in a misdemeanor charge punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in prison.

Fairrington denied requests for an interview.

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