The San José church that refuses to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, still managed to accept aid money

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) – Calvary Chapel San Jose, a church facing more than $ 1 million in administrative fines for defying the state’s public health order, received a sizeable taxpayer-funded loan through the Paycheck Protection Program.

According to data recently released by the Small Business Administration, Calvary Chapel San José received a loan of $ 340,400 on April 15. ABC7’s analysis found that’s nearly three times what the average Bay Area religious organization received.

RELATED: SJ Church Continues to Defy COVID-19 Orders with Plans for Christmas Eve Indoor Service

It is frustrating for those who follow the rules.

“I made the decision to shut down, a complete shutdown,” said Calvary United Methodist Church Pastor Kangse Lee. “Safety first”.

Lee received about a $ 28,000 PPP loan to retain four people. But it was not enough.

“We had to fire three staff members, it was very painful.”

Indoor worship services are prohibited by the Santa Clara County Public Health Order. However, Pastor McClure is seen in this YouTube clip preaching to his inner congregation last Sunday, December 20 at 11 a.m.

WATCH: San Jose Church fights county as pastor faces fines and jail time for performing indoor services

“If each of us does our part and stay within the bubble of our home, we can prevent people from dying,” said Dr. Sara Cody, director of Public Health for Santa Clara.

According to Santa Clara County Attorney James Williams, Calvary Chapel San José has continued to perform indoor services, without masks, since August, racking up more than $ 1 million in administrative fines.

“It’s more than disappointing, this situation is embarrassing,” Williams said.

RELATED: South Bay Church Moves Outdoor Services After Racking Up $ 112K in COVID-19 Fines

SBA data indicates that Calvary Chapel San Jose received its loan on April 14 to retain 70 employees.

“It is disturbing to hear that an institution that flouts the courts and public health orders at the state and local levels is simultaneously turning around and taking taxpayer money from the federal government,” Williams added. “That is quite disturbing and a bit ironic.”

According to the SBA, churches that can demonstrate financial need due to a direct impact from COVID-19 may qualify for PPP loans.

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“Our role is really to keep the economy going to help it recover, so that came to help churches keep employees on the payroll,” said Miryam Barajas, SBA Region 9 communications director.

“Even churches that are not following the rules?” ABC7’s Stephanie Sierra asked.

“That is out of my reach to comment.”

ABC7 contacted Calvary Chapel four times in the past four days for comment and clarification on how the $ 340,400 loan was spent. We specifically asked how many employees were retained on the loan.

The I-Team was told by phone:

“Our finance staff was not available until January 5.”

The ABC7 I-Team will stay on this story and follow up with Calvary Chapel San Jose when their staff can answer our questions.

ABC7’s Lindsey Feingold contributed to this report.

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