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Church Culture Politics

MacArthur, Grace Community Church file suit against California officials

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Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church filed a lawsuit against California officials Wednesday, saying the state-issued health restrictions aimed at minimizing the spread of COVID-19 “violate the California Constitution.”

The complaint claims California has applied the protections of the U.S. and state constitutions unequally. “When many went to the streets to engage in ‘political protests’ against ‘racism’ and ‘police brutality,’ these protestors refused to comply with the pandemic restrictions. Instead of enforcing the public health orders, public officials were all too eager to grant a de facto exception for these favored protestors,” the complaint states.

The suit names as defendants Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other public health and law enforcement officials in the state.

Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., began holding regular services again July 26, despite a new round of closures instituted by the state as COVID-19 cases surged during the summer. Video stream of the services showing people singing and sitting near each other, many without masks.

The city of Los Angeles last week issued MacArthur and Grace Community Church a cease-and-desist letter, threatening a $1,000 fine or arrest for defying state orders.

MacArthur remains undeterred. The church secured attorneys Jenna Ellis and Charles LiMandri of the Thomas More Society as legal counsel, and on Aug. 9, MacArthur welcomed congregants to “the Grace Community Church peaceful protest.”

Speaking about the lawsuit, he said, “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. We will remain open and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who decide they want to come worship with us.”

Grace Community Church initially complied with state orders beginning in March, but announced in a statement July 24 that it would return to unrestricted services.

MacArthur said that no members of his church have been infected with COVID-19. Los Angeles County is currently reporting 1,500 to 2,000 new infections daily.

“I can’t imagine a time when this particular society all of a sudden loves and tolerates the church,” MacArthur said on WORLD’s podcast The World and Everything in It. “We just decided to engage at the point the society began to control the church.”

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Christina Darnell

Christina Darnell is a freelance writer who has contributed to WORLD, The Charlotte Observer, and other publications.