In a first of its kind criminal prosecution in California, a Christian pastor was charged with a misdemeanor after hosting an outdoor worship and baptism service near the Huntington Beach pier. The service took place when indoor church services were shut down due to COVID-19 concerns. To address those concerns, the religious service was conducted on the beach with the baptisms taking place in the Pacific Ocean.
The Huntington Beach Police Department issued the pastor a citation for hosting the event without a permit and ordered him to appear before the Orange County Superior Court for violating the Huntington Beach Municipal Code by holding a “large scale event.”
After nearly 10 months of legal wrangling, the case was thrown out after we were able to convince the prosecutor that the religious service did not constitute a criminal offense, nor did the pastor violate the city’s code because his religious service did not meet the legal definition of a “Permit Required” event.
(Click to read the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times articles about this case)