Grace Community Church sues Newsom, Garcetti, state of California amid prolonged closure

The church is led by Pastor John MacArthur.

Updated: August 13, 2020 - 10:00am

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Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California is suing the state, the governor, the mayor of L.A., the state attorney general, and several other California public health officials. The lawsuit, filed by Thomas More Society Special Counsel Jenna Ellis and Charles LiMandri, seeks to stop California from enforcing its pandemic regulations against the Los Angeles megachurch. Pastor John MacArthur and his attorneys hope for a ruling that determines the state's coronavirus health orders violate the California Constitution.

The complaint emphasizes the need for Americans to be in control of their spiritual lives at a time when they feel their government has failed and lied to them, extending indefinitely coronavirus shutdowns that "are neither necessary nor good," according to the complaint. Recently, the church made the decision to re-open, citing a need for its congregants to be able to return to religious services after months without being able to worship together.

"With deaths from the ‘COVID-19 suicide pandemic’ exceeding those from the actual coronavirus pandemic, Grace Community Church decided that it would no longer sit by and watch its congregants and their children suffer from an absence of religious worship and instruction," reads the complaint. 

Specifically, the complaint questions the exemptions granted to political protesters across the state in recent weeks, as they gather in large numbers, ignoring pandemic safety precautions to protest racism and police brutality. 

"It is unconstitutional for Governor Newsom and the State of California to discriminate against churches by treating them less favorably than other organizations and activities that are not protected by the First Amendment ... This is especially the case when the government has given free rein to protestors, and is not similarly restricting marijuana dispensaries, large retail outlets and factories, and abortion providers," noted LiMandri. 

"It is time for California to recognize that Christians are not second-class citizens, and the court must step in to do its job applying the protections the U.S. and California State Constitutions provide to every individual equally and to churches in particular."

On Sunday, July 26, the Grace Community Church decided to resume services, and were met with a cease-and-desist demand letter from the County of Los Angeles.  

Pastor MacArthur and the church have no plans to comply with the letter, and on Sunday Aug. 9, Pastor MacArthur opened the church and welcomed worshippers to "the Grace Community Church peaceful protest." 

"We will remain open and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who decide they want to come worship with us," said MacArthur.

Pastor MacArthur recently told CNN, "We're a church, and we're going to trust those people to make adult decisions about the reality of their physical and spiritual health."


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