By Michael Hernandez
LOS ANGELES–Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church will be in Superior Court again for the fourth time on Monday as the Country tries to shutdown indoor services at this megachurch in Sun Valley.
The church received a cease-and-desist letter from county lawyers on July 29 warning that violating state and county health order “is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of up to 90 days.” The letter was written by Attorney Jason H. Tokoro of Miller Barondess. The letter states: “As of July 13, 2020, indoor worship services are prohibited with the County.
“The County requests that you immediately cease holding indoor worship services or other indoor gatherings, and adhere to the Health Officer Order directives governing activities at houses of worship. If you or Grace Community church continue to hold indoor services in violation of the law, you are subject to criminal and civil liability.”
The core of the Los Angeles County complaint against Grace Community Church also names Pastor John MacArthur and DOES 1-100. The complaints lists 10 attorneys representing Los Angeles County and Dr. Muntu Davis, Health Officer for Los Angeles County.
(Editor’s Note: To see the 97-page complaint issued by L.A. County go to:
https://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/lac/1076769_COMPLAINT-ComplaintforViolationofEmergencyHealthOrdersandAbatementofPublicNuisance.pdf?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=. This complaint also contains the July 24th Grace Community Church post on: “Christ, not Caesar, is Head of the Church.” found on pages 36-43.)
A summary of Grace Community declaration on “A Biblical Case for the Church’s Duty to Remain Open” is as follows:
- Christ is Lord of all. He is the one true head of the church (Ephesians 1:22).
- As pastors and elders, we cannot hand over to earthly authorities any privilege of power that belongs solely to Christ as head of His Church. Pastors and elders are the ones to whom Christ has given the duty and the right to exercise His spiritual authority in the church (1 Peter 5:1-4).
- We do not need the state’s permission to serve and worship our Lord as He has commanded. The church is Christ’s precious bride (2 Corinthians 11:2).
- Christ’s own authority is ‘far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And (God the Father has) put all things in subjection under (Christ’s) feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:21-23).
- The biblical order is clear: Christ is Lord over Caesar, not vice versa. Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church (Matthew 28:18).
- The church by definition is an assembly. That is the literal meaning of the Greek word for “church”–ekklesia–the assembly of the called-out ones. A non-assembly assembly is a contradiction in terms. Christians are therefore commanded not to forsake the practice of meeting together (Hebrews 10:25).
- Persecution of the church by government authorities has been the norm, not the exception throughout church history. “Indeed,” Scripture says, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
- Christ promised: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
- “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
The Grace Community Church statement ends stating: “Stand with us in support of the biblical mandate to gather for corporate worship.”
On August 14, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant found that the county must demonstrate why it should be allowed to infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed rights of churches to freely exercise religion.
The Epoch Times reported on Aug. 23 that the county was wrong to “teat churches the same as other businesses…they’re entitled to heightened protection, not to be treated like a hair salon. I don’t think the country or the governor has adequately considered the First Amendment rights of the church. You cannot treat them like a hair salon”
Lawyer Paul Johnna praised “Chalfant as “the first judge in California to agree that there’s constitutional problems with how they’re treating churches.”
Grace Community Church Pastor John MacArthur on a Fox News “Tucker Carlson Tonight” segment questioned the validity of California’s coronavirus case and death counts. The church has filed a lawsuit against L.A. County public health officials and with Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and other California health officials.
(Editor’s Note: To read Citizens journal earlier story on Grace Community Church see:
https://www.citizensjournal.us/los-angeles-church-wages-full-fledged-battle-against-county-state-wins-round-1-in-religious-freedom-court-case/. To read Charlie Kirk speaking at Godspeak Calvary Aug. 23 on how churches need to rise up against ‘tyranny’ go to: https://www.citizensjournal.us/charlie-kirk-challenges-the-church-to-rise-up-against-tyranny-it-preys-on-the-willing/?unapproved=323976&moderation-hash=427cbba38a3fbe4d92d834230c66538b#comment-323976t.)
Capstone Report carried the story on the interview between Eric Metaxas and Pastor John MacArthur. (Editor’s Note: To see the story link and interview go to:
Capstone Report also carried two stories (Aug. 14) on Grace Community winning the “right to hold indoor worship services” and “California court recognizes Church is essential.” According to Pastor John MacArthur: “This vindicates our desire to stay open and serve our people. We will stand firm to protect our church against unreasonable, unconstitutional restrictions.”
However, Los Angeles County responded immediately to the court victory by Grace Community Church by filing a new order on Aug. 15 for “immediate relief” to stop the church from meeting with indoor services on Aug. 16. This order was ignored by Grace.
(Editor’s Note: To see the filing go to:
Meanwhile, Pastor MacArthur has welcomed worshippers to “the Grace Community Church peaceful protest.”
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].