By George Miller and Debra Tash
In a closed meeting today, with no advance notice to the potential defendants, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted to seek restraint against Calvary Godspeak Newbury Park holding in-person services in violation of the state and county orders. Pastor Rob McCoy has had the church open since Pentecost Sunday on May 31st. Governor Newsom released guidelines for places of worship on May 25th. Citing a spike in COVID cases, Newsom rolled back those openings along with certain businesses on July 13th. On July 14th Ventura County ordered that services were to be held outside only. McCoy continued to hold in-person services in the church sanctuary.
Two days ago on her social media, Supervisor Linda Parks wrote: “Outdoor services would protect parishioners and our community’s health. Jesus taught more than 50% outdoors. This isn’t about the right to practice religion.”
Most likely, someone tipped off the Ventura County Star and Acorn that a closed door vote had been taken to seek legal redress against Godspeak. This violation of secrecy, on its face, looks to be in violation of the Brown Act which governs the conduct at government meetings.
From a text on the law:
“The Brown Act explicitly prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information acquired in a closed session by any person present, and offers various remedies to address breaches of confidentiality.64 It is incumbent upon all those attending lawful closed sessions to protect the confidentiality of those discussions. One court has held that members of a legislative body cannot be compelled to divulge the content of closed session discussions through the discovery process. Only the legislative body acting as a body may agree to divulge confidential closed session information; regarding attorney/client privileged communications, the entire body is the holder of the privilege and only the entire body can decide to waive the privilege.” – Open & Public V- A Guide to the Brown Act
The vote and the debate, were done in closed session, with no public input on a matter of great public interest. Even at that it may have been leaked to selective press. The Ventura County Star and Acorn asked Pastor McCoy to comment on a matter that was kept from public review, he said.
McCoy announced on the August 4th Godspeak Fireside chat that the media had contacted him and was informed the County would move against the church. There was no mention of the church in the meeting conclusion announcement or the agenda.
A video bulletin made on August 4 by McCoy with his comments was later taken down later in the evening, “by the uploader”, per YouTube.com:
In that video, he stated that he was contacted by “media” (he told us the Star and Acorn) and was told that the VC Board of Supervisors had voted 3-2, with Long and Huber dissenting, to institute legal action against the church, presumably to stop their in-person services.
In the only 4 1/2 minute board meeting video, which covered only the introduction and ending public announcement, County Counsel Leroy Smith stated that the board voted 3-2, with Bennett, Parks and Zaragoza for and Long and Huber dissenting, “authorizing county counsel discretion to file litigation seeking temporary restraining orders or other enforcement against persons or entities who are not compliant with state or local health orders.” Presumably, that could include any violator. He said no individuals/entities would be mentioned at this time and would only be on inquiry, after a complaint has been filed.
The Star didn’t waste much time in getting an article out at 8:19 PM on Tuesday evening: https://www.vcstar.com/story/news/2020/08/04/ventura-county-covid-enforcement-actions-approved-supervisors/3296096001/
Per the Star: “County supervisors Tuesday empowered attorneys to seek restraining orders and other enforcement actions against parties who refuse to comply with local and state health orders to control spread of the coronavirus.”
We had already seen McCoy’s “Fireside Chat” on the church’s position on holding services. He held forth again on the subject at a church service on Sunday, July 24.
In summary, Pastor McCoy’s past arguments have covered:
- First Amendment and God-given rights church services ARE essential, probably more essential than pot shops, abortion mills, restaurants, BLM protests, riots and going to the beach, etc.- if those are permitted, then it is absurd to stop church services.
- The restrictions are unwarranted. There have been previous pandemics. The same level of precautions is warranted. The level of deaths and hospitalizations is down. 74 deaths in a county of 850,000 people is .000087. Your chances of dying are infinitesimal- almost nil if high risk people take proper precautions. Nearly all deaths were of very elderly and/or sick people with serious prior conditions. Such people should be isolated, not the entire nation.
When I pointed out Linda Parks’ Facebook comments about holding only outdoor services, he referred me back to some of the above. He says that the church has taken reasonable precautions in holding the services and that they were totally banned at one point.
He pointed to what he believes is “unwarranted devastation of the country”- the economy and society wrought by government-imposed lockdown restrictions. Many have declared that the destruction of the economy (currently dropping at an annualized rate of 32%) will cause far more destruction/deaths than the pandemic.
McCoy wishes to have a hearing soon and believes that:
“if handled properly, ‘the optics'” of this case will look terrible for the county when the case is presented.”
McCoy wrapped up with:
“We are living in unprecedented times in history in this country.You quarantine the healthy, not the sick. This doesn’t just affect us, it affects the whole country.”
Shutting down Churches vs Marxists Marching in/Burning Our Cities – Pastor McCoy throws down a Challenge
By Debra Tash and George Miller Newbury Park- July 26th, 2020- In opposition to Governor Newsom’s mandate to cease all in-person indoor religious services, Pastor Rob McCoy opened Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park for worship. The church was full with hundreds of congregants, especially at the 9am session where people were turned away at […]
Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.
George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.