Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles released a video earlier this week in which he explained why he believes “church is essential” and urged other churches to reopen.
In a video he prefaced with a Bible verse that commands Christians to gather together, as well as one in which Jesus promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the church, MacArthur laid bare what he described as the inconsistent and arbitrary lockdown measures against houses of worship in California and elsewhere.
“Today’s current crop of politicians are trampling on the Constitution and on the resolve of citizens to demand their rights under the pressure of a manufactured fear,” MacArthur asserted. “The reality is that the COVID data just doesn’t match the government’s COVID narrative.” Even if an individual catches COVID-19, MacArthur claimed, “You have a 99.99% chance to survive COVID. It’s just not what they’re saying it is.”
“That absolutely does not warrant shutting down anything,” MacArthur continued. “But especially, absurdly and arbitrarily, churches that have a special protection from the Constitution. Oh, and at the same time, leaving open abortion clinics, strip clubs, and marijuana dispensaries.”
“And by the way, the Health Department is on record as saying they are going to allow riots and protests without regard for the mandated health and safety ordinances. This is obviously targeted discrimination. Leftists and secular government officials have no tolerance for biblical Christianity, so they’re using COVID as an excuse to shut us down.”
“We have to stand firm on the reality that the church is essential. The most meaningful, transformative, exemplary lives in a community all come together in a church, and that’s been our impact on the city of Los Angeles.”
MacArthur explained that after crucial ministries in his church were shut down for 20 weeks, he first began preaching to an empty auditorium until members began returning because “they didn’t believe the narrative the local government and media were giving them.”
Appealing to the legacy of the Protestant Reformation, MacArthur warned, “This is a watershed moment in America. We have been granted by God the freedom to meet as a church and that is protected by the Constitution. We need to be the church, not only because we’re free to be the church, but because we’re commanded to be the church by the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church.”
“This is a time of all times to meet as the church. Open your church. The church is essential,” MacArthur added.
Evangelist Franklin Graham quote-tweeted the video in a show of support, writing, “I’m thankful that [President Donald Trump] declared that churches in this country are essential. I appreciate Pastor [John MacArthur’s] stand and agree that churches should be able to open and not be stopped by the government.”
Graham expanded on his thoughts about church lockdowns in a recent interview with The Daily Wire:
Regarding what the future may hold for American Christians, Graham reiterated the warning of freed pastor Andrew Brunson, who will be attending the march and offering the prayer at one of the stops along the Mall. A year ago, Brunson told the Washington Examiner that he believes persecution is possibly “very close” for the American church, a prediction about which, Graham said, there is “no question.”
Graham condemned the lingering lockdowns of churches in states like California as illegal and unconstitutional. “The Constitution guarantees us the right to worship without interference from the government,” he said. “For a governor just to arbitrarily say that Lowe’s, Home Depot can be open, or Walmart can be open on Sunday, but churches have to be closed, and they can’t have more than 100 people or 50 people or whatever, it just shows you that they are targeting churches.”
“Businesses can stay open, but churches cannot. I appreciate the president saying that churches are essential,” Graham added, commending Los Angeles pastor John MacArthur especially for taking a stand against state and local authorities, despite continuous court battles. “He’s right,” Graham said. “We have the right to worship, whether pandemic or not a pandemic. We have the right to worship and the government can’t stop us.”