Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Calif. Megachurch Pastor Declares Victory after LAPD Says It Won’t Enforce Lockdown

'It was as if the Lord overruled and allowed the appellate court to remove all the restraints...'

John MacArthur, pastor at Grace Community Church in California, declared victory on Tuesday in a dispute about the state’s church shutdown orders, conservative blogger Todd Starnes reported.

MacArthur said that the Los Angeles Police Department forwarded him an internal department memo that said officers would not enforce Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s 100-person limit on indoor gatherings at Grace Community Church.

“Any decision that you make with regard to sanctions on any church, don’t call us—we will not be involved,” the memo said.

The LAPD said it will not enforce the dictates of the state and local health departments.

“The chief of police told me there is no scenario where the police will shut down Grace Church,” MacArthur said on the “Todd Starnes Show.”

The struggle between Grace Community Church and Los Angeles County continued on Thursday when the county tried to hold the church in contempt for holding church services.

“LA County continues to harass and target Pastor MacArthur,” said Jenna Ellis, an attorney for the Thomas More Society. “Having failed to get a court order to shut down the church they have sought three times, they’re going to try again by hauling us back into court.”

Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff ruled in favor of Grace because he found that there was not an active court order that prevented the church from hosting services.

Yet, Los Angeles County declared victory, too.

“We are grateful that the court recognized the vital importance of our Health Officer Orders in protecting the public health, and continue to seek an opportunity to work with Grace Community Church to bring its services into compliance,” the county said in a press release, The Washington Times reported.

The lawsuit will continue.

Los Angeles County seeks to hit Grace with a $20,000 fine and a restraining order that bans services. The court will return to session on Friday, CBSLA reported.

The LAPD’s choice to respect the Constitutional right to worship without government interference came the same day that a California Court of Appeals ordered Grace Community Church to follow Newsom’s arbitrary restrictions.

The appeals court overturned a lower court’s ruling, which found that the government had no authority to shut down the church or limit in-person attendance.

Instead, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant said congregants could attend church in person as long as they covered their faces and physically isolated themselves from others.

MacArthur said Grace Community Church took precautions, such as opening additional seating, even though “we didn’t have to do that.”

He said the church was willing to work with county health bureaucrats to find a situation in which they would sanction the church’s operations.

“I think the Lord knew that it would have been restrictive if we had tried to conform, although we were willing to do that,” he said. “It was as if the Lord overruled and allowed the appellate court to remove all the restraints.”

Since the beginning of California’s attack on the freedom to peaceably assemble and worship, MacArthur has been clear that his commitment to preaching the Gospel supersedes his devotion to any legal or extra-legal mandates.

“If the Constitution didn’t allow us to meet, the Bible would still command us to meet,” MacArthur said.

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