By Michael Hernandez
VENTURA—Godspeak Calvary Pastor Rob McCoy of Newbury Park announced during a three minute Fireside Chat message today (from his 56th birthday celebration in Westlake) that Ventura County was pursuing a contempt citation against him and the church with the intention of citing congregants and making sure that Ventura County Sheriff would enter and close the church from meeting on Sunday. The action was led by Thousand Oaks Supervisor Linda Parks, who was joined by Ventura County Board of Supervisors John Zaragoza and Steve Bennett last week. (Editor’s Note: To see Pastor McCoy’s message go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHFdx1-qhKQ.)
“This is draconian rules by elitists who don’t care about the populace,” said Godspeak Pastor McCoy. “These actions are vindictive” to a church that has seen zero COVID-19 cases. “We fight for liberty.”
The Ventura County Superior Court hearing will be heard Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the Ventura County Superior Court, Department 20 presided by Judge Matthew P. Guasco, a registered Democrat and a 2011 appointee of former Governor Jerry Brown.
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors sought and received a 22-day temporary restraining order last Friday (Aug. 6) against Godspeak Calvary with Judge Guasco saying during the one-hour hearing: “There is no exercise of a right unless people are alive to exercise it” while ignoring arguments of the actual COVID-19 health data in Ventura County made by Godspeak Attorney Robert H. Tyler with a five-page letter sent to Ventura County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas on July 27.
Ventura County with a population of approximately 850,000 has recorded 8,364 COVID-19 cases (with 272 cases reported in Thousand Oaks/Newbury Park), 92 deaths and 127,649 tested as of Aug. 10.
The three attorneys representing Ventura County and Dr. Robert Levin, MD (Ventura County Health Officer) were: Leroy Smith, County Counsel, Michal G. Walker, Chief Assistant County Counsel, and Jaclyn Smith, Assistant County Counsel. The Ventura Superior Court nine-page complaint was filed Aug. 5th and included four Exhibits (A-D: https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/7274938498?profile=original
The Superior Court order issued last Friday lasts until Aug. 31 when another hearing is set on whether the order should be replaced with a preliminary injunction that could last for months or could simply expire.
Attorneys for the church are arguing that the public health order is a first amendment constitutional battle of freedom of religion. The public health order also cites Sonia Angell, M.D., who resigned from her post as both California Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer on Sunday.
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].