- Legacy Church and Calvary Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, were fined $10,000 each after hosting Christmas services for crowds of people not wearing masks.
- Photos and videos of the services were shared by the ABC News affiliate KOAT.
- New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told NBC News the services violated "the state public health order and common sense."
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Two megachurches in New Mexico have been fined $10,000 after holding packed Christmas services during which few people wore masks.
Officials said the services at Legacy Church and Calvary Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, violated a state order put in place help stop the spread of COVID-19 that limits worship service capacity to 25%, requiring guests to be socially distanced and wearing masks.
Photos of the Christmas services were shared by the ABC News affiliate KOAT, showing large crowds of people not wearing masks.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told NBC News the Christmas and Christmas Eve services violated "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," she said.
In a statement to Insider, Legacy Church said: "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."
"It's tragic that what we do for thousands of shut-ins (food and supplies), those in despair, and kids who go without meals gets no state notice, but fixation on one service can net us large fines," the church added. "The state should fold its losing hand against Churches as Colorado has, focus on the truly vulnerable, and recognize what the US Supreme Court has recently said about Churches because we must continue to do what we are called to."
Calvary Church did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The church told The Hill that it "continued to urge and provide opportunity for our congregants to maintain safe social distance, wear face coverings, and properly sanitize."
New Mexico has seen 141,186 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, and 2,436 people have died from the virus, according to the state's Department of Health.
According to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, New Mexico has a 8.56% seven-day average testing positivity rate, and there are currently 792 people in the state hospitalized with COVID-19.
"These illegal and selfish gatherings will directly contribute to more suffering and illness in our state," Lujan Grisham told NBC News.
Source: Read Full Article