Pastor John MacArthur Files Declaration Against LA County’s Repeated Attacks to Shut Down Church

John MacArthur, Grace Community Church, Los Angelas County

For the fourth time, the county of Los Angelas is attempting to attain a court order to close the doors for in-person worship at Grace Community Church. This continuous attack on the Church and Pastor John MacArthur by LA County is “an illegitimate misuse of power,” MacArthur said in his declaration to the court.

“After 63 years of sacrificial, kindness to our city, to be repeatedly threatened with court-ordered efforts to shut Grace Community Church down when no one is sick, reveals an inexplicable preference for a mostly harmless virus over the life-enriching and necessary fellowship of the church,” the pastor explained. “Our leaders and congregation see no real health threat to warrant such restraint. We see this action against us as an illegitimate misuse of power.”

This development comes after the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit on behalf of Grace Community Church and John MacArthur against the State of California County of Los Angelas on August 13th. The suit sought to “prohibit California from enforcing its unconstitutional and onerous coronavirus pandemic regulations against Grace Community Church” as well as “a judgment that the health orders violate the California Constitution.”

The Judge in that suit, James Chalfant, ruled in favour of the Church, agreeing “that it is the county’s burden to show why they should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion” and setting the full hearing for September 4th.

The LA County Health Department then filed a last-minute appeal against the August 14th ruling and attempted to hold John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in contempt of court for holding indoor worship services that Sunday.

“The LA County Board of Supervisors has decided to continue their unconstitutional attack against Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church,” Special Counsel for Thomas More Society, Jenna Ellis, said in response to the attack. “Pastor MacArthur is standing firm that church is essential and has no plans to yield to this tyrannical board, which is clearly defying the constitution’s mandate to protect religious liberty.”

Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff then upheld the religious freedom of the Church and MacArthur, saying “that there is no court order prohibiting Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church from holding indoor worship services,” according to a press release August 20th.

Judge Beckloff today recognized LA County’s seeming inability to accept the rulings of the California court, saying,  “As I see it, Judge Chalfant said ‘No’ to you and the Court of Appeal declined to make the order that you requested.”

In his declaration to the court, filed on Sunday, John MacArthur stated that “the county’s and state’s July 13 and 14 worship-bans burden my and Grace Community Church’s free exercise of religion by criminalizing activity directly required by our faith. As a church, we have a moral and religious obligation to continue allowing our congregants to gather in our sanctuary to worship the Lord.


Read the full Press release from the Thomas More Society Below:


(August 24, 2020 – Sun Valley, California) Los Angeles County is returning to court this morning, August 24, 2020, attempting – for the fourth time – to get a court order to shut down indoor worship services at Grace Community Church.

As the judge noted last week, the County simply refuses to accept the reasoned decisions of the California court. Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff, who will preside over today’s hearing, told Los Angeles County attorneys from the bench on August 20, “As I see it, Judge Chalfant said ‘No’ to you and the Court of Appeal declined to make the order that you requested.”

MacArthur’s declaration to the court states in part:

“Worship-bans appear to take the position that we should lock our doors and force our congregants to gather to worship the Lord in parking lots, in parks, or perhaps beaches—but never in any church. From Grace Community Church’s perspective, this is nonsensical, and we view it as a direct ban on engaging in the worship which our faith requires. The size of our congregation means that there is no place for it to meet outdoors; the summer heat makes meeting outdoors unhealthy and even dangerous; our experts have refuted that meeting indoors significantly aids in the spread of the coronavirus; and most principally, Grace Community Church’s sanctuary itself is a spiritual refuge for our congregants—a refuge of which the county has no right to deprive them.”

“Thus, the county’s and state’s July 13 and 14 worship-bans burden my and Grace Community Church’s free exercise of religion by criminalizing activity directly required by our faith. As a church, we have a moral and religious obligation to continue allowing our congregants to gather in our sanctuary to worship the Lord.

“This church is the core of life for thousands from nursery to seniors. Our church is not an event center. It is a family of lives who love and care for each other in very intensely personal ways. So essential to personal well-being that people rushed back as soon as they could. The utter unnecessary deprivation of all our people by completely shutting down the mutual love and care that sustains our people in all the exigencies, pressures and challenges of life, was cruel. And after 63 years of sacrificial, kindness to our city, to be repeatedly threatened with court-ordered efforts to shut Grace Community Church down when no one is sick, reveals an inexplicable preference for a mostly harmless virus over the life-enriching and necessary fellowship of the church. Our leaders and congregation see no real health threat to warrant such restraint. We see this action against us as an illegitimate misuse of power.”

Read the full Declaration of Pastor John MacArthur, filed on his behalf by Thomas More Society attorneys on August 23, 2020, in Superior Court of the State of California – County of Los Angeles – Central District in County of Los Angeles et al. v. Grace Community Church et al. here.