When God was ready to deliver Israel out of Egypt, He gave these instructions to Moses:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Exodus 9:1 NIV)
What we often miss in this passage is that God uses people in the fight for freedom.
And several churches in California are facing similar battles as different levels of government are using legal means to try to stop churches from holding worship services during the COVID lockdowns.
And churches and pastors are standing up to them.
Perhaps the most ludicrous involved a $1,000 fine levied against Lady of Angels Catholic Church based in Arcadia, CA, after 11 people were caught leaving the 500-seat building after a time of prayer.
The church was actually fined $500 for allegedly breaking COVID regulations and $500 for not allowing an inspector to enter the building.
On the other side of the fine spectrum, Calvary Chapel in San Jose is facing a total of $350,000 in fines for continuing to hold services in violation of the county’s COVID restrictions.
At this point, the Santa Clara County only allows churches 25% of capacity to a maximum of 100 people at a service and along with this prohibits singing and requires face masks.
Calvary Chapel can seat 1,900 people and allegedly held services of up to 600 people. The church has continued holding services in violation of the government’s restrictions which is intended to prevent the spread of COVID.
However, the church’s pastor, Mike McClure, pointed out this curious fact:
“Just so you know we haven’t had anyone get sick, no one’s gone to the hospital and nobody’s died here. And if we have people sick and dying then we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing, but we haven’t had that.”
The church’s lawyer added in the five months the church has been holding services not a single person has caught COVID. If this about COVID and there hasn’t been a reported case, what is really going on here?
But the county’s efforts to stop Calvary Chapel services took a new turn, as it decided to target individuals. The government has received a restraining order to stop people from attending services, and according to McClure this may result in any who attend next Sunday’s service being fined or possibly arrested.
But mainstream media has also been working in lockstep with governments.
At the end of October, the LA Times sensationally reported an outbreak of COVID at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. The Church decided to reopen its doors in July in violation of the city’s lockdown restrictions and has been successfully fending off court orders stopping it from holding services.
But some argue that the LA Times designation of an outbreak is grossly exaggerated. The church, that runs about 7,000 people on a Sunday, has only reported three mild cases of the virus.
Jenna Ellis who legally represents the church told the Daily Wire:
Three very mild positive tests among more than 7,000 people is hardly news. 0.04% is not an “outbreak.” The LA Times and others’ grossly misleading and fear-mongering headlines aim to mischaracterize Grace Community Church as irresponsible and a superspreader. It has never been the Church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.
Why are only churches targeted and not businesses with very similar risks?
Many Christians wrestle with the fact that we are told to obey governments (Romans 13:1). However, this needs to be balanced with Biblical examples of civil disobedience. There are many who disobeyed government orders, and whom God protected when they did.
This included the two Israeli midwives who refused to kill male babies at birth as ordered by the Pharaoh, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to worship a giant idol set up by the Babylonian King, and Daniel who disobeyed a government order to pray to the King of Babylon.
READ: L.A. Fines Church $1,000 after 11 People Pray in 500-Seat Sanctuary AND Calvary Chapel in San Jose faces lawsuit, $350K fines for indoor services AND LA Times Reports COVID-19 ‘Outbreak’ At John MacArthur’s Church. City: 3 Confirmed Cases AND ‘They May Arrest You’: Calif. County Sues Church to Stop Indoor Services