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Constitution wins, California loses: Grace Community Church

Grace Community Church, Los Angeles California
Credit: Pigby/Wikipedia/Public Domain

John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church (GCC) in Los Angeles, California, has just won an important court battle with Los Angeles County that was trying to enforce the state’s lock down orders imposed on churches.

Under Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lock down, church attendance was limited to 25% of capacity or 100 people whatever was lower.

In defiance of the lock down restrictions, GCC resumed indoor services last Sunday. The church can seat 3,000 people and typically held two Sunday services before the pandemic started.

When Los Angeles County issued a cease and desist order against Grace Community, the church took the state and county to court over the state’s unconstitutional order. On Friday, Aug 14, 2020, won a temporary restraining order allowing the church to resume indoor services until a full hearing scheduled for Sept. 4, 2020.

Grace Community argued that churches have a constitutionally protected religious freedom to meet, and this was being infringed by the lock down restrictions.

Others noted that stores and even casinos did not face similar restrictions. In addition, the state did not require Black Lives Matter protests to abide by pandemic rules.

While Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant stated that the state failed to provide good reason why it should be allowed to infringe on a church’s constitutionally protected right, he also expressed concerns about the pandemic. To address those concerns, Grace Community Church stated it would require those attending services to wear masks and as well to socially distance by family group.

Judge Chalfant agreed that this was reasonable compromise and allowed the church to resume services under those conditions until the full hearing in September.

READ: Historic ruling in California protects the right of Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church to hold indoor worship services

However, in Ventura County, churches are facing another court battle. The county has just filed a suit against Calvary Chapel Godspeak for a temporary restraining order against indoor services.

Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom legal nonprofit, alleges the county has taken an unusual approach

In its news release, Liberty Counsel explains:

Ventura County, CA, voted 3-2 along party lines to file suit against Calvary Chapel Godspeak, its pastor and 1,000 “John Does” (aka church members or future attendees) who want to worship. The lawsuit demands a Temporary Restraining Order against Calvary Chapel Pastor Rob McCoy and all who attend, or who will attend, services.

In other words, every person who attempts to worship would be a defendant and could be held in contempt for having any worship in the future… until Gov. Newsom gives his permission! Violators could go to jail and pay fines.

Yet, the same orders that ban ALL worship allow the same church with the same people to feed, shelter, and provide “social services” to the community. They can meet for non-religious purposes, but not for worship.

Liberty Counsel addressed another prayer ministry that was prohibited from meeting. It received a cease and desist order after five people met in its 7,000 square foot (ca. 650 square metres) facility.

READ: Jail Time & a $1,000 a Day Fine for Worship

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