Over 100 Christian pastors have scheduled a gathering to discuss the unfair treatment of religious groups during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Southern California.
The lunchtime gathering will take place at noon on Oct. 20 at Brio Tuscany Grille in Dana Point. The luncheon meeting was called following a weekend church fair in Walnut that Los Angeles County health officials threatened to shut down for violating state COVID restrictions.
Marc Ang, president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance and the organizer of the Oct. 17 Walnut Family Fair, told The Epoch Times that the threatened shutdown of the fair was “really political targeting and political selection.”
“I want people to know just how much we were harassed. That normally wouldn’t have been done to any non-Christian organization or nonconservative,” Ang said.
Ang said he received a letter on Oct. 16, the day before the event took place, from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The letter warned him that holding the fair would be in violation of the law.
“They sent me a threatening letter as an organizer, and told me that I would be arrested and imprisoned and/or fined for continuing with the event. But I went ahead and defied orders, and continued with the event anyways,” Ang said.
The letter, which Ang provided to The Epoch Times, was addressed to his organization. It said that he would “not be able to host this event at this time,” adding that “violation of or failure to comply with this order is a crime punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.”
The letter—signed by Emily Caesar, a manager for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health—mentioned that the reason for not allowing such events was to prevent increased risk of transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“Events like the one you are planning for this weekend are not allowable under state and local Health Officer Orders that prohibit in-person gatherings,” the letter states.
“Existing community transmission of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County remains widespread and continues to present a substantial and significant risk of harm to residents’ health. … There remains a strong likelihood that increased interactions among members of the public will result in a significant and increasing number of cases of community transmission.”
Ang said his group was “unfairly targeted,” while gatherings by liberal groups are tolerated.
“They unfairly targeted us the same day that there was a women’s march,” he said. “[The] women’s march had no intervention from any health department, even though they had less social distancing and more people.”
Ang said the Walnut Family Fair, held at On A Mission Church, was a gathering designed for the whole family to enjoy. Over 500 people are estimated to have attended the event, which included conservative speakers, a petting zoo with goats, a dog show, a puppy parade, a puppet show, and historical reenactments
He said two suspected members of the County Health Department tried to crash the private event, but gatekeepers denied their entry. The health officials then tried calling the police to shut down the fair for refusing to adhere to the order, he said.
“The Health Department showed up, and we exercised our right to not let them in because it was private property. So then they called the police,” Ang said. “But lo and behold, the L.A. sheriff—the local department—was already an exhibitor at our event. And they got a call from their higher-ups.”
The officers decided they weren’t going to enforce any regulations or make any arrests, he added, “because we were compliant, we were social-distanced, there were no issues there.”
An L.A. Sheriff’s Department commander told City News Service he was unaware of any attempt to shut down the event.
Ang said the sheriff’s department was at the event observing the participants, taking temperatures, and making sure people acted in accordance with social distancing and other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The sheriff’s department had “someone in an Officer McGruff suit” and “did a demonstration with their canine unit” at the event, he said.
The Oct. 20 lunch event at Dana Point is limited to church leaders. “Only pastors and ministry leaders are allowed to come to this event,” Ang said.
He said a main topic of discussion will be Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who he claims is being unfairly treated due to her religion.
“We’re going to have a really nice discussion about an overall religious targeting and persecution on Christians,” Ang said. “We’re going to talk about the overall persecution of … churches, and the unfair bullying and targeting of churches in the last few weeks.”
Ang said he has received “over 100 RSVPs,” but expects just under 100 people to attend.
He said the guests would include pastor Rob McCoy, whose Newbury Park church was also targeted for shutdown by officials in August after he held indoor services despite restrictions.
The goal is to encourage the guests “to get activated, in terms of civics, talking about the issues, and calling for fair treatment of Christians.”
“We have a lot of things to discuss,” Ang said.
The event will be presented by Ang’s Asian Industry B2B organization. It will be co-hosted by Words of Comfort, Hope, and Promise, along with American Renewal Project.