A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Grace Community Church in Sun Valley from holding indoor services.
The church, led by its pastor John Macarthur, has been holding full worship services for several weeks in defiance of lockdown rules.
The court ruling said that Grace Community Church should follow health orders to prevent the community spread of the coronavirus.
Judge Mitchell Beckloff also ruled that the church must not conduct any outdoor worship services unless it fully complies with the county’s mandates relating to physical distancing and face coverings. The church has decided to defy the judge’s decision.
John Macarthur said, ‘In an inexplicable ruling, the judge said the “scale tipped in favour of the county”. 1/100th of 1% of Californians with a virus apparently wins over the US Constitution and religious freedom for all?
‘That is not what our founders said. Nor is that what God says, who gave us our rights that our government – including the judicial branch – is supposed to protect. The scale should always tip in favour of liberty, especially for churches.’
Grace Community Church is being supported by the Thomas More Society. Special Counsel Charles LiMandri said, ‘We are disappointed in the ruling on the preliminary injunction as the court did not apply the strict scrutiny analysis to the government order that we believe is required by the California Constitution and legal precedent.
‘The court also did not properly consider the medical and scientific evidence that the current number of people with serious Covid-19 symptoms no longer justifies a shuttering of the churches.
‘Nor do we believe that the court gave adequate consideration to the fact that churches have been treated as second-class citizens compared to the tens of thousands of protestors.
‘More than ever, California’s churches are essential. Therefore, we plan to appeal this ruling to ultimately vindicate our clients’ constitutionally protected right to free exercise of religion.’
And Special Counsel Jenna Ellis said, ‘Although this is a temporary setback, we will continue to fight for Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church’s constitutionally protected right to hold church.’