Judge orders John MacAruthur’s California church to stop indoor services in defiance of COVID-19 regulations

Saturday, September 12, 2020

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - A California Superior Court has ordered Pastor John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church to stop holding indoor services in defiance of county COVID-19 health regulations, Courthouse News reports. Giving his ruling on Thursday, LA County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said he was making the order because “there is an immediate threat to public health and safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The latest ruling was handed down as part of an ongoing legal battle in which MacArthur has argued churches must be allowed to open as “essential services.” Grace Community church also argues there is discrimination against churches on the grounds that racial justice protestors have been allowed to gather in large numbers in California, but churches have been highly restricted in holding indoor services. Moreover, Grace Community church says, the medical and scientific evidence related to the COVID-19 outbreak locally does not justify the closing of churches.

Grace Community, therefore, continued to hold large indoor services, in contravention of county health orders. At a Sunday service last month, MacArthur began his message by saying: “I’m so happy to welcome you to the Grace Community Church peaceful protest,” Courthouse News reports.

After talks with Grace Community broke down, LA County officials reportedly “reluctantly” filed a lawsuit against the church in August. At first, a Superior Court judge denied the request for a temporary restraining and the church continued with its services. A Ninth Circuit panel refused issue a restraining order and referred the case back to the state court.

In the latest ruling, Judge Beckloff did not issue sanctions against the church but has ordered it to allow county health officials on to church premises to ensure compliance with local and state health orders.