“We have taken the pandemic seriously from the start and have prudent measures in place. But when governments exceed their constitutional authority and contradict what we are called on by God to do, we answer first to His authority,” Legacy Church officials said in a statement.
Two megachurches in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are facing stiff fines and community backlash after health officials alleged the houses of worship violated Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s COVID-19executive orders by hosting indoor Christmas Eve services attended by hundreds of congregants.
One of the churches responded with a public statement saying, “when governments exceed their constitutional authority and contradict what we are called on by God to do, we answer first to His authority.”
Legacy Church and Calvary Church were both sent notices of “contemplated action” by the state Health Department on Monday. The notices said the churches are each being fined up to $10,000, and officials are mulling “other remedies” to prevent them from holding large gatherings in violation of rules intended to blunt the spread of coronavirus.
State health officials launched investigations after videos and photos of the Christmas Eve services were posted on the churches’ Instagram accounts, prompting widespread condemnation from government leaders and the members of the community at large.
Grisham’s spokesperson, Tripp Stelnicki, blasted the church services as not only illegal but also “selfish gatherings” that defy “common sense.”
“They 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,” Stelnecki told the