Not wearing masks and not social distancing is good news, says John MacArthur
Influential pastor John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Los Angeles has continued its defiance of COVID-19 restrictions.
In a fast-moving series of events, the church last Friday won a court injunction to meet in their 3,500 seat auditorium – with singing and no attendance cap. In an attempt at a compromise, the judge asked the church to temporarily accept social distancing and masks, until a court hearing could be held.
“The suit seeks to prohibit California from enforcing its unconstitutional and onerous pandemic regulations against Grace Community Church and seeks a judgment that the health orders violate the California Constitution,” said the Thomas More Law Society – which appeared for Grace.
However, the LA County authorities won a stay in the Court of Appeal late on Saturday night, which reimposed the ban on the church meeting.
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On Sunday, the church did hold indoor services – “in defiance of a Los Angeles County public-health order, hours after an appeals court blocked a ruling that would have allowed the evangelical megachurch to reopen,” reported the conservative Washington Times newspaper.
“Pastor John MacArthur, who has led the congregation in Sun Valley for 50 years, told worshipers who packed the 3,500-seat sanctuary that ‘the powers of the city were not happy’ about the church’s decision to file a lawsuit Friday challenging the novel coronavirus mandates.”
“Good morning every one, I am so happy to welcome you to the Grace Community Church peaceful protest,” said MacArthur as he opened the church services on Sunday. The congregation cheered loudly in response, as can be seen and heard in the video of the service.
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Posted by Grace Community Church on Sunday, 16 August 2020
“We are not meeting because we want to be rebellious,” MacArthur continued. “We are meeting because our Lord has commanded us to come together and worship him.”
Referring to the weekend’s events, MacArthur added “there was a court order that granted this church and this church alone, the right to meet indoors. And the powers of the city were not happy about that – they were going to be asking us to do two things, social distance and [to] wear masks.”
“They are not willing to work with us. They just want to shut us down.” – John MacArthur
“That was until yesterday when the city – [after] we agreed and [said] ‘look we’ll comply for a few weeks, we are not wanting to be defiant, we will do what is reasonable’ – that was not enough for the city. They went to the appellate court at the last minute on Saturday late, and had that order removed.
“The good news is you’re here, you are not distancing, and you are not wearing masks. [Cheers and clapping from the congregation.]
“And it is also good news that you are not outside. Because it is very hot out there. So the Lord knew you needed to be inside and unmasked. So he did us that gracious favour.”
“They don’t want us to meet, that’s obvious. They are not willing to work with us. They just want to shut us down.
“But we are here to bring honour to the Lord. They are not our enemy; we understand that. The Bible tells us to pray for our leaders. For their salvation. We need to be faithful to do that.”
MacArthur then read Psalm 9. “I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”
“When my enemies turn back,
They stumble and perish before You.
“For You have maintained my just cause;
You have sat on the throne judging righteously.” (New American Standard Version)
Eternity reported here on MacArthur’s statement regarding the independence of churches from state authority, alongside Puritan pastor Richard Baxter’s response – which says churches should comply unless there is genuine persecution – to the issue.
On August 14, California reported 12,614 new cases of COVID-19. Los Angeles County has had 5,245 deaths and 221,000 cases.
California has had 11,229 deaths from COVID-19 and 622,000 cases of infection.