UPDATE: A judge ruled late Friday afternoon (8/14/2020) that Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, can continue hosting indoor worship services and does not have to adhere to any attendance caps or bans on singing, CBN News reported.
🚨BREAKING w/ @PaulJonna:
An HISTORIC WIN today for @johnmacarthur and @GraceComChurch! Judge allows indoor services with singing and no attendance cap! Church agrees to adhere to mask and social distancing until full hearing.
FIRST CA Court to recognize #ChurchIsEssential!
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) August 14, 2020
LOS ANGELES (ANS) — Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church have filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and other state and local officials, claiming their coronavirus pandemic regulations directed to churches are unconstitutional.
The suit, filed by a Thomas More Society Special Council in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles on on Thursday (8/13/2020), seeks “to prohibit California from enforcing its unconstitutional and onerous coronavirus pandemic regulations against Grace Community Church and seeks a judgment that the health orders violate the California Constitution.”
The Special Council’s complaint, led by Jenna Ellis and Charles LiMandri, states that “the American people have begun to see that they are being cheated by their own government.”
“They have witnessed how the onerous restrictions imposed on them by public officials to allegedly fight the COVID-19 pandemic simply do not apply to certain, favored groups. When many went to the streets to engage in ‘political protests’ against ‘racism’ and ‘police brutality,’ these protesters refused to comply with the pandemic restrictions,” stated Thomas More Society lawyers. “Instead of enforcing the public health orders, public officials were all too eager to grant a de facto exception for these favored protesters.”
The lawyers for MacArthur believe that citizens are being misled by the US government which in turn has “irreparably damaged the confidence of Americans—and Californians especially — who now realize that the pandemic restrictions are neither necessary nor good.” Therefore, they state, Grace Community Church decided to resume worship services on Sunday, July 26 — “joining millions of Americans in deciding that enough is enough.”
“With deaths from the ‘COVID-19 suicide pandemic’ exceeding those from the actual coronavirus pandemic, Grace Community Church decided that it would no longer sit by and watch its congregants and their children suffer from an absence of religious worship and instruction. Perhaps unsurprisingly —perhaps not — this led the County of Los Angeles to submit a demand letter to Grace Community Church, ordering it to comply with the restrictions that Los Angeles County deems unnecessary to enforce against so many others. Grace Community Church does not intend to comply.”
MacArthur has pledged to keep the doors of his church open despite opposition from officials.
“We are simply continuing to do today what we have done for the past 63 years, that Grace Community Church has been open to welcome the Los Angeles community and serve their spiritual needs,” the pastor said in a statement. “We will remain open and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who decide they want to come worship with us.”
The Thomas More Society, which is a not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to “restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty,” states the case goes beyond a public safety issue.
“It is unconstitutional for Governor Newsom and the State of California to discriminate against churches by treating them less favorably than other organizations and activities that are not protected by the First Amendment,” LiMandri said.
“This isn’t about health. It’s about blatantly targeting churches,” Ellis said.
Featured image: RNS screengrab