Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in a Los Angeles suburb have been served a letter from the city threatening to impose a $1,000 daily fine if the church does not comply with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order for some churches in the state to be shuttered because of the coronavirus.
“The state has absolutely no power to impose the restrictions it is demanding,” Jenna Ellis, one of the attorneys representing the church, said in a report on The Federalist website. “This is not about health and safety, it is about targeting churches.”
In mid-July Newsom ordered churches in 30 counties, including Los Angeles County, to stop holding indoor services, but MacAuthor refused to comply, as Breitbart News reported, saying that Jesus Christ, not the state government, is the head of the church:
When any government official issues orders regulating worship (such as bans on singing, caps on attendance, or prohibitions against gatherings and services), he steps outside the legitimate bounds of his God-ordained authority as a civic official and arrogates to himself authority that God expressly grants only to the Lord Jesus Christ as sovereign over His Kingdom, which is the church. His rule is mediated to local churches through those pastors and elders who teach His Word (Matthew 16:18–19; 2 Timothy 3:16–4:2).
Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services.
“Now, the city of Los Angeles is punishing the church for its decision to continue gathering. In addition to fines and threats of arrest, Mayor Eric Garcetti has shown himself willing to use other tactics to keep residents from breaking shutdown orders,” The Federalist reported. “Back in April, he warned that he’d given the Department of Water and Power permission to shut off utilities for nonessential businesses that were operating in defiance of restrictions.”
The Federalist said that in addition to Ellis, who also is a private legal adviser to the Trump 2020 campaign, Charles LiMandri of the Thomas More Society is also providing legal representation for Grace Community Church.
“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,” LiMandri said.
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