Updated: Sep 14
Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church have experienced yet another setback in their court case against the County of Los Angeles. As most of you know, there's been a lot of back and forth between the government and GCC since JMac FINALLY decided to hold in-person church services after spending months calling on churches to submit to virtually any governmental official's stated declarations, per Romans 13.
Thankfully, Pastor MacArthur came around to take a stand and is now embroiled in a legal battle with the County of Los Angeles, which is attempting to strip churches of their Constitutional Right to worship God as they see fit without governmental interference.
On one hand, it's a positive sign to see a pietist like MacArthur now talking about defending our rights and liberty. One the other hand, I wish that he would simply come out and explain how he came to this change in his theological understanding of Romans 13. It wasn't too long ago when he wrote this:
Rather than demanding our rights and creating for ourselves a world where we feel safe and accepted, we need to see the deep spiritual needs of the world and concern ourselves with offering people hope through Jesus Christ. That’s what being a living sacrifice is all about. - Pastor John MacArthur in the book Why Government Can't Save You
Either way, I hope that this newfound focus on preserving our Constitutional Rights and Liberty is here to stay and not simply a pragmatic tactic by Pastor MacArthur and his church to simply be able to open up their church for services.
California Judge Issues Order Allowing LA County to Ban Worship for MacArthur and Church
Thomas More Society Attorneys Will Appeal, “We Have the Right to Worship Every Sunday”
(Sun Valley, California)—The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction September 10 against Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur, refusing to follow the U.S. and California State constitutional protections for churches. The ruling fails to apply the appropriate constitutional standard of review. The order prohibits the church from “conducting, participating in, or attending any indoor worship services” and also bans outdoor worship unless onerous restrictions are followed in a heavy-handed move against the internationally known preacher and his congregation. MacArthur and Grace Community Church’s attorneys from the Thomas More Society said the judge refused to consider their important separation of powers arguments “in any meaningful fashion” and essentially “ducked the issue.”
Special Counsel Charles LiMandri said, “We are disappointed in the ruling on the preliminary injunction as the court did not apply the strict scrutiny analysis to the government order that we believe is required by the California Constitution and legal precedent. The court also did not properly consider the medical and scientific evidence that the current number of people with serious COVID-19 symptoms no longer justifies a shuttering of the churches. Nor do we believe that the court gave adequate consideration to the fact that churches have been treated as second-class citizens compared to the tens of thousands of protestors. More than ever, California’s churches are essential. Therefore, we plan to appeal this ruling to ultimately vindicate our clients’ constitutionally protected right to free exercise of religion.”
Special Counsel Jenna Ellis said, “Although this is a temporary setback, we will continue to fight for Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church’s constitutionally protected right to hold church. While the judge did go out of his way to repeatedly state that he is not ruling on the merits, only a ruling at this very preliminary stage, Pastor MacArthur is still harmed because he has every right to hold church. Church is essential, and no government agent has the runaway, unlimited power to force churches to close indefinitely. The County’s argument was basically ‘because we can,’ which is the very definition of tyranny. Without limiting government’s power in favor of freedom and protected rights, we have no liberty. We will fight for religious freedom, as our founders did when they wrote the First Amendment.”
Pastor John MacArthur said, “In an inexplicable ruling, the judge said the ‘scale tipped in favor of the county.’ 1/100th of 1% of Californians with a virus apparently wins over the U.S. Constitution and religious freedom for all? That is not what our founders said. Nor is that what God says, who gave us our rights that our government—including the judicial branch—is supposed to protect. The scale should always tip in favor of liberty, especially for churches.”
Read the Ruling explaining the Order Granting Preliminary Injunction, issued September 10, 2020, by Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff in the Superior Court of California – County of Los Angeles – Central District in County of Los Angeles et al. v. Grace Community Church et al. here[https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20stcv30695-Ruling-on-order-granting-PI.pdf]
About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, Omaha, and Fairfield, NJ, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit thomasmoresociety.org.
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