- Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin, California, has been openly defying shutdown orders.
- Pastor Greg Fairrington drew hundreds for his sermons on the government restricting church rights.
- Despite his harsh words, the church applied for and received between $US350,000 and $US1 million in PPP aid, the Sacramento Bee reported.
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Pastor Greg Fairrington of Destiny Christian Church in Rocklin, California, has been adamant in claiming that the government has no place restricting the rights of worshippers.
Despite California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordering that churches and business shut down again after a spike in coronavirus cases, Farrington’s passionate sermons have drawn hundreds, according to the Sacramento Bee.
While the church took issue with the government implementing safety measures on churches, it was willing to accept a PPP loan that totaled between $US350,000 and $US1 million, the Bee reported, citing government records.
“I believe my mandate as a pastor is to obey the word of God and worship is a part of what we do together,” Fairrington said in a video posted to Facebook earlier this month. “We’re not going to allow the governor to use data that is not supported factually to shut the church down.”
At least 7,773 California residents have died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
While the state was one of the earliest to enforce a stay-at-home order and saw early success, cases started to surge after businesses began to reopen in late May. That prompted another round of shutdowns, which included churches.
While Destiny Christian held online services during the first shutdown, Farrington has refused to close the church again. A different California church that sought to overturn the order in court wasturned away by the Supreme Court.
The PPP loan that Destiny Christian received was intended to secure the jobs of 140 employees, according to the Bee. The money arrived on April 8, five days after the start of the first round of PPP loans, the Bee reported.
The loans have 1% interest rates and are forgivable if the organisations can show they were used to keep their employees working.
Religious institutions around the US have applied for and received loans. In total, religious groups have received $US7.3 billion in coronavirus aid, according to Newsweek.
Evangelical leaders who associate with President Donald Trump and megachurches named in scandals have seen some of the largest payouts, Newsweek reported.
Nearly 10,000 US Catholic churches were approved for PPP loans by the time the second round of applications closed in early May, according to Newsweek.
Fairrington spoke in July about churches being treated unfairly by the government during the pandemic, the Bee reported.
While the church remains open, it has encouraged those who are “at-risk, sick, or uncomfortable” to stay home and stream services online.
“Destiny’s decision to apply for a federal assistance program has no relevance to Destiny’s decision to remain open in light of a state order,” Fairrington told the Bee. “The reason Destiny applied for PPP was the same as the other 700,000 businesses did in the United States, and that was to protect our employees, who provide critical care and support to the community.”
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