Two California megachurches pastors have rebranded their churches into temporary “strip clubs” in protest of the state’s closing down of places of worship due to the COVID-19 pandemic while permitting strip clubs to stay open.
In November, San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel R. Wohlfeil ordered California to end any actions that prevent clubs from “being allowed to provide live adult entertainment.” Meanwhile, several California churches continue to fight legal battles with authorities to reopen in-person indoor services.
Last Sunday, Godspeak Calvary Chapel Pastor Rob McCoy, who has sparred with local authorities over orders prohibiting indoor worship services, circumvented the restrictions by turning his church into a “strip club” of his own, RT reports.
In a video circulating of the service, McCoy first plays a Fox News clip of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who quipped that churches should reopen as a “temporary strip club.”
“I don’t have a lot of experience with the strip clubs,” Huckabee says in the clip. “I do have quite a bit of experience with churches … and I would think it’s ridiculous to say that people are safer in a strip club than they are at church.”
Huckabee suggested churches must “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.”
McCoy, who was previously fined thousands of dollars for holding church despite restrictions, then breaks out in a clean version of a “striptease” before removing his tie as music plays in the background.
“This is insane!” McCoy said afterward. “Cannot America see the hypocrisy and the stupidity of all this? You’re being lied to.”
McCoy told pastors who “don’t do politics” to “get out of the church” because the church is “all about politics.”
“You're contending for the welfare and the concerns and the livelihood of your neighbors. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Those that are abused are being quarantined with their abusers. The elderly are lonely and isolated for no reason. No one gets to attend the funerals of their loved ones ... it’s our responsibility to support folks."
“We are finished with your tyranny,” he declared.
Also in protest of the order, Senior Pastor of Awaken Church Jurgen Matthesius did a “striptease” before his sermon. In a video posted on social media, the pastor is seen removing his tie as music plays in the background.
“STRIP CLUBS (Not Churches) are exempt from the COVID lockdowns, and are deemed essential by our governor!” he wrote on Instagram.
“Soooooo... we decided we are NOW AWAKEN FAMILY FRIENDLY STRIP CLUB! (Where we strip the devil of his hold, power & authority over people’s lives!),” he captioned the video. “Enjoy the intro to the preach today!”
Under California’s current health order, indoor businesses in counties in the purple, meaning the area has more than seven COVID-19 new daily cases per 100,000 people, must remain closed. This includes indoor religious services.
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted temporary relief to the Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church which sued over the state's restrictions on in-person worship gatherings. Citing its recent 5-4 ruling in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo to justify granting the relief, the high court sent the case back to the district court.
Harvest Rock had argued in its petition that for most of the year, Gov. Gavin Newsom "has continued to discriminate against Churches’ religious worship services while permitting myriad nonreligious entities to continue to gather without numerical restrictions inside the same house of worship and in other external comparable congregate assemblies.”
The church accused Newsom of “publicly encouraging and supporting mass protestors, rioters, and looters to gather without numerical restriction in blatant disregard for his own Orders[,]” and of personally disregarding his own orders, including an image taken of Newsom with a large group at a restaurant despite indoor dining restrictions.