Los Angeles' Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur have come under fire for deciding to hold in-person church services despite California Gov. Gavin Newsom's (D) Wuhan coronavirus declaration that bans church assemblies. The City of Los Angeles slapped the church with a cease and desist letter and threatened to charge both the church and Pastor MacArthur, as an individual, a $1,000 a day fine. The pastor also faces the possibility of being arrested should in-person services to continue.
Despite the threat, the church and Pastor MacArthur are holding firm. They will continue to gather for worship in person.
“This is not the first time we as Christ’s church have stood for Truth. We will continue to stand firm for the Truth today like we have every prior day in our 63-year history and in the over 2000-year history of the biblical, New Testament Church," MacArthur explained. "We stand firm to continue fulfilling our biblical mandate from Christ to proclaim the Gospel and assemble together, and I earnestly hope that our stance will encourage other pastors, churches, and the general public across America and the world to also stand firm for biblical Truth. Church is essential.”
President Donald Trump's personal attorney and Trump 2020 campaign senior advisor Jenna Ellis and constitutional law attorney and religious freedom expert Charles LiMandri will serve as Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur's Special Counsel.
According to Ellis and LiMandri, both the state and city have discriminated against the church and pastor, which is a religious freedom violation that goes against the very protections laid out in the Constitution.
“Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community church are not disobeying the Constitution; it is California’s Governor Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti that are defying their constitutional obligation to protect religious freedom and church assembly,” said Ellis. “Our American system of government specifically recognizes that our individual, fundamental right to free exercise of religion and freedom of assembly is a pre-political, God-given, inalienable right. That right is not given by the government or the Constitution, but rather, government is mandated by the Constitution to preserve and protect it for the church. Grace Community Church has every right to assemble without impossible and unreasonable infringement from the state, and the state has absolutely no power to impose the restrictions it is demanding. Church is essential, and the government has no power to arbitrate whether religious organizations are essential. This is not about health and safety, it is about targeting churches.”
LaMandri pointed to Gov. Newsom's (D) hypocritical stance on picking and choosing what venues are allowed to stay open and what ones must close.
"Pastor MacArthur and his church, as well as all churches, are entitled to practice their religion without government interference," he explained. "This is especially the case when the government has given free rein to protestors, and is not similarly restricting marijuana dispensaries, large retail outlets and factories, and abortion providers."
The counsel stated California's hospitals are not overwhelmed and the death rate remains relatively low. Because of that, churches shouldn't face restrictions.
"It is time for Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti to recognize what President Trump has already proclaimed: Churches are providing an ‘essential’ service to the people. Therefore, they must be allowed to serve the people in the manner in which God has called them," LaMandri said.