By Elizabeth Prata
I’ve been watching the legal wrangling in LA County from Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, their departments, Supervisory Board, and legal team, against John MacArthur and Grace Community Church. The wrangling began late in July when pastor-teacher John MacArthur called for his congregants to return to church and worship together.
Gov. Newsom had said that there was too much COVID-19 virus circulating for people to gather in churches, or anywhere, despite the fact that many protesters had been gathering unimpeded in many other locations throughout California. And despite the fact that COVID has not proved to be as deadly as first thought. Also despite the fact that the First Amendment protects freedoms to worship. After heeding the restrictions for many months, finally on July 24, Grace Church met for indoor worship.
Subsequently, the church received vague threats that their water or air conditioning would be turned off in Grace Church should people turn up to worship. It wasn’t, but an official Cease and Desist letter was sent to the church leaders. The letter contained a threat of a $1,000 a day fine and possible arrest. The church retained legal counsel.
The church’s legal counsel replied of the Cease & Desist Letter: “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.”
The church took the issue to court and won. The Judge agreed they should be able to hold in-person, indoor services, but also asked that the congregants be willing to wear masks and try to remain socially distant until the matter could be fully heard at a scheduled time, September 4. Dr. MacArthur said yes, replying,
This vindicates our desire to stay open and serve our people. This also gives us an opportunity to show that we are not trying to be rebellious or unreasonable, but that we will stand firm to protect our church against unreasonable, unconstitutional restrictions.”LA Times
However, the court decision and the respondent’s good faith promise was not satisfactory enough for the State or City government, and the LA Board of Supervisors took the matter to court again and again, once in an ’emergency session’ late on a Saturday night. But the Supervisors lost again and again. At one point they tried to put into place a contempt of court order with attached thousands of dollars of fines, AND a restraining order, but the judge hearing the case said that there was no court order currently in place for the church to be in contempt OF! It was dismissed. The City has not been successful in any of their varied legal attempts against Grace Community Church.
Now, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works has suddenly broken the parking lot lease the Church has held with the city for the past 45 years. The City is demanding they be evicted. In 1975, the Church leased the adjacent parking lot to the church, paying over $8,000 per month, $24,000 quarterly, almost $100,000 per year to the Department of Public Works, but this week the Department of Public Works suddenly and without cause voided the lease. You see from the Google map below that the parking lot’s size and how it is an absolute necessity.
It has been noticed that as each Government attempt to stop worship at GCC fails, the next attempt seems more and more like petty retribution and harassment of a powerful government agency against a single organization.
Legal Counsel for the Church, Jenna Ellis, replied of the eviction notice,
“In America, we have a judicial system to ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its power, and Grace Community Church has every right to be heard without fear of reprisal. The Democrats’ message to Americans is clear—if you don’t bow to every whim of tyranny, the government will come after you. The Church has peacefully held this lease for 45 years and the only reason the County is attempting eviction is because John MacArthur stood up to their unconstitutional power grab. This is harassment, abusive, and unconscionable,” Ellis added.The Federalist
As I wrote yesterday of this COVID issue, satan is god of this world for a time, and he is allowed to put forth the deceptions as he will. In his opening to the August 30, 2020 sermon, Dr. MacArthur said, “There is no pandemic.” He was referring to the issuance of the actual numbers regarding COVID-19 by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that only about 9300 people have died from the virus from COVID alone. Six percent of deaths from the virus were healthy people with no underlying conditions. 94% of covid deaths were people in the upper age brackets (at or exceeding U.S. life span) with two OR MORE comorbidities, that could not be explicltly traced to COVID.
This was astounding news, and it rightly circulated widely this past weekend on social media. It trended Late Saturday and early Sunday on Twitter. It was eventually picked up by NBC late Sunday.
I mentioned the 6% issue yesterday in my essay, and received a harsh reaction from people who are deceived and want to maintain the fiction that death has been lurking for one and all since March when the COVID virus was first called an ’emergency’.
Nevertheless, despite the growing obviousness that COVID isn’t a widespread threat, the Governor of California has recently made more restrictions and tightened ones already in existence, including forbidding gathering for worship. Churches had attendance caps placed on them, restrictions for indoor worship such as distancing and a singing ban.
The pastors, elders and worshipers at Grace Community Church on July 24 made their decision to stand for Jesus. When Government said, do not teach in this name, (cf Acts 5:28), the people answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (cf Acts 5:29).
If you think Caesar’s harassment, legal battle, and overt punishment and retribution against grace Church in CA won’t happen to you and your church, wherever you are in the U.S., you are dead wrong. It is already happening. It’s happening most visibly to Grace Church in CA but also in many other places in the United States.
Dr. MacArthur said that among the fabrication of numbers and deception going in with COVID, it’s obvious that part of satan’s deception is to shut down churches that preach the Gospel. “It does not surprise me that they want to shut down those who preach the Gospel, because the architects of this level of deception are not part of the kingdom of heaven. They are part of the kingdom of darkness,” he said last Sunday (Video linked below).
Get ready to make your decision. Get ready to make your stand. What will you do when they come and say, ‘You may not worship. You may not teach in the name of Jesus. You may not enter the church. You may not sing. You may not buy a Bible.’
If you believe that last threat is outlandish, please know that several authors have already remarked that their books on the biblical stance on homosexuality and homosexual conversion have been pulled from Amazon and banned from being sold as the claim of hate speech wins out over biblical truth. There is a current push in Scotland to name the Bible itself hate speech, so the notion that Bibles may become difficult to obtain here in America, and soon, is not as outlandish as previously thought, despite the Constitution’s protection of the practice of religion.
What will you do? If you have been feeding on the word of God, and are filled with Gospel truth, you will stand. If you haven’t, you won’t. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. King Saul fell. Samson fell. Even Peter denied Jesus, whom he loved and had been close to for three years! The only strength is the strength of the Holy Spirit, apart from Christ we can do nothing. We inflame that strength by feeding that fire, the fire of truth!
Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)