Charlie Kirk speaks at the Culture War Turning Point USA event at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio on October 29, 2019. Megan Jelinger / AFP / Getty Images
A large Northern California Pentecostal church defied public health orders on Sunday by holding several jam-packed services with conservative activist Charlie Kirk without wearing face masks.
Kirk, co-founder of the conservative group Turning Point USA, discussed three sermons with Pastor Greg Fairrington at Destiny Church in Rocklin for 45 minutes on Sunday morning.
Both Kirk and Fairrington were vocal opponents of public health order, largely due to their alleged attacks on religious institutions.
“This is the biggest attack on religious freedom in American history,” said Kirk on Sunday under California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Few masks, little social distancing: During the service, which was simultaneously streamed on the Church’s Facebook page, neither Kirk nor Fairrington were seen wearing masks as required by state health orders. Instagram videos posted from the event also showed few masks worn by viewers and little social distancing.
A Destiny Church official told CNN that masking was not compulsory at the event.
“We follow some of the guidelines, including taking the temperature of every individual who comes to church,” said the official, who asked for anonymity because of the church’s violations of state public health guidelines. The official said the church had also reduced the auditorium occupancy but did not disclose the number of attendees.
Placer County, where the church is located, is the most restrictive of California’s four-tier reopening system, where coronavirus risk is considered widespread and outdoor services are only allowed. To date, the county has reported 5,880 cases, including 67 deaths.
Government response: A Placer County spokesman referred questions about the service to Rocklin officials.
Michael Young, a spokesman for Rocklin City, said it was “determined to work with local businesses and organizations to protect the health and safety of residents. The city continues to provide the latest information on the state COVID-19 mandates and impresses everyone with the need to comply. “
But the church official said he had not received an order to cease personal services and that Rocklin and Placer Counties were “all well aware of what we have decided”.