Rob McCoy, a senior pastor at the Godspeak Calvary Chapel, recently garnered attention through a ridiculous and satirical act, turning his church into a “strip club” to remain open.
No actual striptease was performed inside the church — the pastor merely danced to a song and took off his tie. The reason McCoy was forced to stage such a performance has to do with the strict COVID-19 rules in the state of California.
In California, churches are classified as “nonessential” and have been asked to shut down their services to stem the spread of the pandemic. However, several churches have challenged the injunction, arguing that it violates their First Amendment. Interestingly, strip club owners challenged the lockdown order slapped on them, saying that the First Amendment gives them the right to continue doing business.
On Nov. 12, a judge from the San Diego Superior Court instructed the county to reopen strip clubs. The fact that the state allowed strip clubs to open but placed restrictions on churches seemed to many a blatant repudiation of common sense.
McCoy saw an interview of former governor Mike Huckabee that gave him an idea of how to circumvent the law. “I don’t have a lot of experience with the strip clubs. I do have quite a bit of experience with churches… Generally, they’re a fairly safe place, and I would think it’s ridiculous to say that people are safer in a strip club than they are at church… [churches should] announce their pastor will remove his tie during the sermon, and therefore he will take off an article of clothing making it a temporary strip club so that people will be able to go to church,” Huckabee said in the interview with Fox News.
This is why McCoy did his little striptease at his church — to highlight the absurdity of the current rules against church gatherings. The pastor noted that his church has been “wide open” since May 31 and yet no one in the congregation has contracted COVID-19 through the church. He called out the hypocrisy of classifying cannabis stores and liquor stores in California as “essential.”
The fight between the church and COVID-19 state rules has resulted in numerous lawsuits. California’s Harvest Church has petitioned the Supreme Court for enacting an emergency injunction against the COVID-19 laws active in the state.
The law prohibits in-person services in counties designated as “purple tier,” a classification under which almost 94 percent of the population of the state lives. In its filing, the Harvest Church stated that Californian governor Gavin Newsom has been discriminating against the Church’s right to religious worship for more than nine months while himself encouraging mass protests and gatherings without any numerical restrictions.
The Supreme Court recently ruled 5-4 in favor of Agudath Israel of America and Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn in their case against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.68. The order placed an occupancy limit of 25 individuals in churches and synagogues located in orange zones and 10 for those located in the red zones.
Father Gerald Murray of New York City’s Holy Family Church praised the Supreme Court’s decision and called out Cuomo’s double standards by pointing out that he had attended a massive rally after asking everyone to observe social distancing.