The Legal Battle for Religious Freedom in California continued Wednesday, as the Los Angelas County persisted in its relentless attack on the constitutionally protected rights of John Mac Arthur and Grace Community Church.
Last Thursday, the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit on behalf of Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church against the state of California seeking to protect their constitutional right to hold in-door worship services.
On Friday, Judge James Chalfant ruled in favor of the church and MacArthur, denying almost all of Los Angelas county’s unreasonable requests. The Judge agreed “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” according to a Press Release from the church August 14th.
With a full hearing set to September 4th, the Church agreed to minor coronavirus safety measures and was told that it could open its doors for indoor services.
According to CBN, on Sunday, the Los Angeles Health Department filed a “last-minute appeal following Friday’s Superior Court ruling in favor of MacArthur’s church“:
The California Court of Appeals issued a stay of the judge’s order late Saturday. But the megachurch met for in-person worship services on Sunday anyway, despite the appeals court ruling against the church.
MacArthur said they were meeting in obedience to God’s word which tells Christians to assemble together and worship.
“They don’t want us to meet, that’s obvious,” MacArthur said from the pulpit. “They’re not willing to work with us. They just want to shut us down. But we’re here to bring honor to the Lord.”
In a press release Wednesday, the Thomas More Society explained that the County of Los Angelas is now attempting to have the Church and MacArthur held in contempt of court for their in-person services last Sunday.
“The LA County Board of Supervisors has decided to continue their unconstitutional attack against Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church,” Jenna Ellis, Special Counsel for Thomas More Society, responded. “They are now asking the court to hold the church in contempt for simply being open for worship last Sunday. 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.”
Read the Thomas More Society’s full response in the Press Release Below:
(August 19, 2020 – Los Angeles, California) Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, are the targets of a County of Los Angeles request to be held in contempt of court. Thomas More Society attorneys are representing the internationally followed preacher and his church and defending their religious freedoms against the county’s unconstitutional violation of the right to worship together.
Jenna Ellis, Special Counsel for Thomas More Society, responded to the attack by the county:
“The LA County Board of Supervisors has decided to continue their unconstitutional attack against Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church. They are now asking the court to hold the church in contempt for simply being open for worship last Sunday. 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.”
MacArthur and Grace Community Church are suing the county – and the state of California – for attempting to shut down their worship under COVID-related orders that violate the state’s constitution. The lawsuit was filed after MacArthur received a cease and desist letter prohibiting indoor worship and threatening him with fines and imprisonment should Grace Community continue to worship in their church building.
After a California Superior Court Judge denied the county’s request for a temporary restraining order against MacArthur and his congregation, the church held weekend worship services. Following that the County of Los Angeles asked the court to hold the pastor and church in contempt.
Read the Plaintiffs’ Ex Parte Application for an Order to Show Cause re Contempt and for Sanctions for Violations of Court Orders, filed by the County of Los Angeles, at the Superior Court of the State of California – County of Los Angeles, Central District, on August 18, 2020, in County of Los Angeles, et al. v. Grace Community Church of the Valley, et al. here.
Read the Thomas More Society’s Complaint filed with the Superior Court for the State of California County of Los Angeles – in Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur v. Gavin Newsome et al., on August 12, 2020, here.
Read the Demand Letter sent to Pastor John MacArthur by attorney Jason Tokoro, representing the County of Los Angeles in California, on July 29, 2020, here.