The Los Angeles Superior Court decided Thursday that John MacArthur and his Grace Community Church cannot be held in contempt of court for holding indoor church services in defiance of California state orders — a charge sought by Los Angeles County — because there is no court order barring them from holding such services.
Press release from the Thomas More Society:
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The Los Angeles County Superior Court announced on August 20, 2020, that there is no court order prohibiting Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church from holding indoor worship services. The renowned minister and his Sun Valley, California, congregation are being targeted by the County of Los Angeles, which has made repeated attempts to shut down the non-denominational, evangelical megachurch. Thomas More Society Special Counsel Jenna Ellis and Charles LiMandri are representing the church, defending the religious freedom of the pastor and congregants against the county's unconstitutional violation of the right to worship together.
Ellis responded to the judicial finding:
"We are pleased with the outcome today. Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff correctly found there is no court order prohibiting Grace Community Church from holding indoor services. LA County continues to harass and target Pastor MacArthur. Having failed to get a court order to shut down the church they have sought three times, they're going to try again by hauling us back into court. Ironically, LA County said in its application for contempt that, ‘Grace Church cannot thumb its nose at the court when decisions don't go its way,' yet that's precisely what LA County is now doing themselves. We will simply continue to defend our client's constitutionally protected rights because church is essential."
MacArthur and Grace Community Church are suing the county – and the state of California – for attempting to shut down their worship under COVID-related orders that violate the state's constitution. The lawsuit was filed after MacArthur received a cease and desist letter prohibiting indoor worship and threatening him with fines and imprisonment should Grace Community continue to worship in their church building.
Background information on Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church's legal battle to worship freely:
Read the Thomas More Society's Complaint filed with the Superior Court for the State of California – County of Los Angeles, in Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur v. Gavin Newsome et al., on August 12, 2020, here.
Read the Demand Letter sent to Pastor John MacArthur by attorney Jason Tokoro, representing the County of Los Angeles in California, on July 29, 2020, here.
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? MacArthur and the elders at Grace Community Church announced on July 24 that they would no longer obey the state's order banning all indoor church services. MacArthur expounded further on their reasoning in his first defiant sermon, titled, "We Must Obey God Rather Than Men," in which he cited, among other reasons, the statistical deadliness of COVID-19, the fact that churches in California have been shut down while abortion clinics and liquor stores have been deemed "essential" and allowed to remain open, and the biblical grants and limitations to government authority over Christians.
MacArthur recently referred to GCC's church services as "peaceful protests":