DOZENS of churchgoers have been kicked out of an Evangelical church in Malaga for defying the ongoing coronavirus lockdown. 

Policia Local raided the Jesus con Nosotros (Jesus With Us) building in the Gamarra neighbourhood yesterday before denouncing the owner of the building and the pastor.

The intervention took place at around 7.20pm last night under article 11 of the royal decree, which limits attending places of worship unless there are strict measures in place.

These include ‘avoiding crowds of people, depending on the dimensions and characteristics of the buildings, in such a way that attendees are guaranteed a distance of at least one metre between one another.’

According to Policia Local, the church premises, on Calle Antonio Jimenez Ruiz, were holding around 100 people.

The pastor denies this and claims the number of worshippers did not even reach 50.

The agents sanctioned both the religious leader and the owner of the premises under article 45.3, section b, of Law 17/2015 of the National Civil Protection System.

The law states it is a very serious offence to ‘in declared emergencies, breach the orders, prohibitions, instructions or requirements made by the competent authorities…when it is of particular danger or significance for the safety of people or property.’

The penalty ranges from €30,001 to €600,000.

The pastor of the church said they held the service after consulting with their lawyers, who, allegedly, gave him the green light as long as visitors kept their distance from each other.

According to Diario Sur, he also alleged that a visit from the Policia Local last week resulted in no sanctions or warnings, despite having more people.

He believed he had fulfilled the measures of the state of the alarm, including calling his older parishioners and those who suffer from chronic diseases to tell them to stay at home.

He told Diario Sur he kept the church open because ‘everyone is truly concerned’ and that ‘we believe in the power of God.’

The pastor said: “We were just praying. We pray for ourselves, for our families, but also the authorities, the police…. all over the world. For us the church is a solution.”

The church has agreed to suspend the services scheduled for this week.

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