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California churches battle back against Gov. Newsom

San Diego worship service on July 26, 2020 led by Sean Feucht Credit: Whitney Witt

There is a battle brewing in California between Gov. Gavin Newsom and Christian churches. According to the state’s lockdown rules, churches are limited to 25% capacity or 100 people, depending on what is lower.

This means churches that can seat three to five thousand people can only have 100 people attending a service at one time. But what is bothering churches is that this 100 person cap is not applied equally to other business, including restaurants.

And in acts of civil disobedience, several churches have announced that they will be returning to public services and purposefully violate the cap, with or without the government’s permission.

One of those churches is Grace Community Church located in Los Angeles. Pastored by John McArthur, the church’s auditorium can seat 3,000 people, and prior to the Coronavirus was handling two services a day, with both running at full capacity.

Even though there are threats that the city would cut off power to the church, in a letter posted on its website, the church said it would move ahead with its services:

“Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services,” the letter declared.

“When officials restrict church attendance to a certain number, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the saints to gather as the church. When officials prohibit singing in worship services, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the people of God to obey the commands of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. When officials mandate distancing, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible to experience the close communion between believers that is commanded in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In all those spheres, we must submit to our Lord.”

But this is not all that is happening.

According to Fox News, Christians are also taking to the California beaches to hold services. This past Sunday (July 26, 2020), over 5,000 people gathered for a service on a San Diego beach.

The event, which included the participation of several churches, was led by Sean Feucht a worship leader from Redding, California. The events are held under a new organization started by Feucht, called “Hold the Line,” where he is encouraging believers to stand their ground when governments and others try to infringe on their civil liberties.

People attending the San Diego service were encouraged to bring a mask and if they don’t have one, a mask was provided.

Outside meeting are allowed in California, provided people keep six feet apart and wear masks. But even though this allowed, several government officials are still criticizing these outdoor services while remaining strangely quiet on recent protests in the state.

Feucht has been holding outdoor services around California during the last several weeks, and he is also planning to hold one in Portland which is now is in its 60+ straight day of rioting.

The issue of civil disobedience is a tough one for Christians. On one hand, we have several passages that tell believers to obey governments: 1 Peter 2:13-14 and Romans 13:1-3.

But that must be balanced with several acts of civil disobedience recorded in the Bible where believers purposefully disobeyed governmental authorities.

This included the early apostles who were jailed for preaching Jesus in Jerusalem and when authorities ordered them to quit preaching, Peter responded with these words, “We must obey God, rather than men.” (Acts 5:29 NASV)

For more information on the topic of Christian civil disobedience, please listen to our podcast:

50 | Christians in the age of civil disobedience

READ: California churches refuse to shut down in face of local leaders threatening to cut power AND Large outdoor religious gathering draws ire of officials in Redding AND California churches hold beach service, worship indoor in defiance of state ban

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