Los Angeles County Superior Court announced late Thursday that there is no court order prohibiting Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church (GCC) from holding indoor worship services, despite threats from the county, and rejected the county’s attempt to sanction GCG and hold them in contempt over its defiance of COVID-19 restrictions.
Though Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff ruled in the church’s favor, the next salvo will soon be fired, as the County plans to seek another restraining order against Pastor MacArthur and GCC in a hearing scheduled for Monday.
We reported in an earlier story that the County is seeking $20,000 in fines and sanctions from GCC for 8 separate violations, desiring to hold them in contempt. This ruling by the Judge continues an escalation between the church and the County hell-bent on shutting them down.
Special counsel Jenna Ellis, one of the lawyers representing GCC, said in a statement:
“We are pleased with the outcome today. Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff correctly found there is no court order prohibiting Grace Community Church from holding indoor services. LA County continues to harass and target Pastor MacArthur.
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. Ironically, LA County said in its application for contempt that, ‘Grace Church cannot thumb its nose at the court when decisions don’t go its way,’ yet that’s precisely what LA County is now doing themselves. We will simply continue to defend our client’s constitutionally protected rights because church is essential.”
The battle between MacArthur and the County of Los Angeles was kickstarted when the County sent a letter on July 29, informing GCC that their recent decision to restart in-person services after nearly 5 months closed was a prosecutable violation, as the State Public Health Officer issued an order prohibiting indoor operations at a variety of establishments, including churches and other houses of worship.
The County also threatened them with massive fines if they chose not to comply, which was around the time that they procured legal counsel.
MacArthur, for his part, said that regardless of everything else happening, and no matter what fines are given or who may come against them, they will continue to have their regularly scheduled Sunday morning church service:
We’re not meeting … because we want to be rebellious. We’re meeting because our Lord has commanded us to come together and worship Him.