After the California Court of Appeal issued a stay last week on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County’s ruling that Grace Community Church wasn’t under a court order barring indoor church services, Pastor John MacArthur continued holding indoor services, even as he faced threats of fines, jail, and contempt of court.
Los Angeles County sought to renew a temporary restraining order (TRO) against MacArthur and the church, barring the congregation from meeting indoors. But this week, a Superior Court judge denied the government’s request.
The judge noted in his five-page ruling (PDF) that the Court of Appeal didn’t issue a temporary restraining order or direct the Superior Court to issue such an order. “Instead, the Court of Appeal directed this court to proceed with its ‘previously scheduled hearing for a preliminary injunction, set for September 4, 2020….'” The Superior Court judge ruled that the government’s renewed application for a restraining order didn’t meet statutory requirements, as explained in the ruling.
MacArthur didn’t prevail on the merits, but it’s a victory nonetheless. From The Thomas More Society, MacArthur’s legal counsel:
Pastor John MacArthur said of the decision, “We are very grateful to Judge Beckloff for his reasoned opinion and for taking great care to review this very important matter. As I said in my declaration to the court, we see this action against us as an illegitimate misuse of power. It should shock the conscience of every Christian that churches are coming under assault from our own government simply for holding church. Church is essential.”
The chancellor of The Master’s Seminary, pastor of Grace Community Church in Southern California, author, and founder of the internationally syndicated Grace to You radio program, is an example of what all Christians might have to endure as long as the government chooses to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to deny their right to meet inside their churches and freely worship.