John MacArthur, 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, defied Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order that bans all worship services in California indefinitely, whether in church parking lots, church buildings, or inside homes.
The Los Angeles County issued the 81-year-old MacArthur a cease-and-desist letter. He faces fines and arrest.
“This is not the first time we as Christ’s church have stood for Truth,” MacArthur said. “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. 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.”
MacArthur filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles over infringement of religious freedom. From The Thomas More Society, his legal counsel:
“Having irreparably damaged the confidence of Americans—and Californians especially—who now realize that the pandemic restrictions are neither necessary nor good, on Sunday, July 26, 2020, Grace Community Church decided to resume worship services—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.”
The complaint noted the government’s double standards in allowing massive anti-police protests while banning church services. “Instead of enforcing the public health orders, public officials were all too eager to grant a de facto exception for these favored protestors.”
McArthur’s lawyers said Christians are not second-class citizens, and what the government is doing to churches and their pastors is unconstitutional.