Tags: Coronavirus | Law Enforcement | Religion | Supreme Court | new mexico | church | governor

Two New Mexico Megachurches Fined for Holding Packed Christmas Eve Services

a graphic showing a pounding of the gavel on the words religious freedom
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 30 December 2020 05:14 PM

Two megachurches in Albuquerque, New Mexico, were slapped with $10,000 fines for allegedly violating coronavirus safety protocols during Christmas Eve services, NBC News reports.

According to authorities, the "pro-virus" clergy did not follow the state's rules, which limits houses of worship to 25% capacity. Videos and pictures of Christmas Eve services at Legacy Church and Calvary Church showed tightly packed worshippers largely without masks, NBC News reports.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the services could cause a mass spread of the virus.

"In violating both the state public health order and common sense, these two churches and their leaders endangered the lives, livelihoods and health of not only their parishioners but their entire communities — and, given how quickly this virus can spread, potentially our state as a whole," Grisham said in a statement.

According to state data, just over 2,400 people in the state have died because of coronavirus so far. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine data shows, as of Wednesday, New Mexico residents over the past seven days are testing positive for the virus at a rate of about 8.25%.

"We all wish this pandemic were over, but it's not, and no pro-virus pastor may deem it so," Gov. Grisham said. "So many New Mexicans have sacrificed — and lost — so much in this pandemic. These illegal and selfish gatherings will directly contribute to more suffering and illness in our state. These church leaders should reflect on the danger they've unleashed in their communities."

Legacy Church did not deny the state's allegations. In a statement to NBC News, the church said authorities were exceeding "their constitutional authority" and were contradicting "what we are called on by God to do."

"It's tragic that what we do for thousands of shut-ins, those in despair, and kids who go without meals gets no state notice, but fixation on one service can net us large fines," according to the church's statement.

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Two megachurches in Albuquerque, New Mexico, were slapped with $10,000 fines for allegedly violating coronavirus safety protocols during Christmas Eve services, NBC News reports.
new mexico, church, governor, michelle lujan grisham, christmas, services, religous freedom
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2020-14-30
Wednesday, 30 December 2020 05:14 PM
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