One California megachurch pastor who initially refused to stop holding indoor worship services has submitted to the city government after facing more than $100,000 in financial penalties.
Jack Trieber, pastor of North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, said his church was facing $5,000 in fines for every indoor service. His congregation was also being saddled with additional penalties for violating other coronavirus-induced restrictions, like the moratorium on singing.
The county had filed a lawsuit against North Valley for its ongoing violations of pandemic mandates. Ultimately, though, rather than fighting it, Trieber told congregants he “felt led of God not to resist the lawsuit.”
“The county has dropped their lawsuit based upon us moving our service outdoors,” he said last week. “To me, that’s a victory.”
Despite concerns that he is backing down when he ought not fall in line with government requirements, Trieber said he will continue to hold outdoor worship services and “do what God commanded me to do just like I did inside that building.”
He also asked churchgoers to be kind do local lawmakers instead of sending “vicious” messages to them, because that’s “not your purpose as a Christian.”
In early September, Trieber called on the city government to stop fining the church.
“One, I’m asking you to stop all fines,” he said. “And two, I’m asking you to remove all fines. This is not Caesar’s money; this is God’s money. We have rendered unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and we have rendered unto God through our tithes and offerings, which is His.”
“We are not closing down this church,” he continued. “I hope you get this message. I don’t know what the consequences on your part are gonna be but I know America does not want this to happen in her country and at this church.”
Mat Staver of the Liberty Council, the right-leaning religious liberty law firm representing North Valley, called California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) COVID-19 orders “unconstitutional.”