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California church continues battle to hold indoor services

Lawyers for the church are pushing to overturn an injunction issued last summer.

Updated: April 3, 2021 - 12:08am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Lawyers for a Los Angeles County megachurch filed new papers Friday in an ongoing court battle over the freedom to hold indoor worship services during the pandemic.

Grace Community Church, an evangelical megachurch in Sun Valley, Calif., was issued an injunction last September by L.A. Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff directing the church to refrain from holding indoor services.

The court also demanded that congregants wear masks and practice social distancing if they chose to hold the services outdoors. 

Beckloff said at the time that "potential consequences of community spread of COVID-19 and concomitant risk of death to members of the community, associated and unassociated with the church, outweighs the harm that flows from the restriction on indoor worship caused by the (Los Angeles County) health order."

In February, lawyers for the church cited two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that allowed churches and synagogues to continue holding their indoor services, but which also allowed limitations on the number of people allowed inside the place of worship. 

On Friday, lawyers for Grace Community Church filed new papers in a move to vacate the injunction filed by the L.A. Superior Court.

 

Jenna Ellis, an attorney for the church stated: 

"LA County has never been required to justify their arbitrary health orders and discriminatory treatment of Grace Community Church. The facts and recent Supreme Court opinions show that the County and the state far overstepped their legitimate authority,” she said.

”Worse, LA County retaliated against the Church for challenging their actions. Pastor John MacArthur and the board of elders were right theologically and constitutionally to open their church and stand firm. As Justice Gorsuch rightly said, 'Even if the Constitution has taken a holiday during this pandemic, it cannot become a sabbatical.'"

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