The efforts by the state of California and at least three counties in the state to restrict the first amendment right of free expression of religion are growing in strength.
Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church are standing in the gap, but other churches are also receiving pressure, including planted spies. This is first article in this specific series.
Next post will give a concise explanation why prohibiting indoor worship, limiting worship size, and banning singing are direct restrictions on religious freedom.
In my humble opinion, the county does not yet know that in picking on GCC, they have targeted a church that will not back down when they have made up their mind. I predict there is a small but measurable chance this case could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
8/20/20 – The Roys Reports – Julie Roys – Judge Rejects Request o Hold John MacArthur & Grace Community Church in Contempt – In the LA County Superior Court (that would be the initial trial court for proceedings) a judge refused to issue a contempt order for Pr. MacArthur and GCC. Also refused to impose $20,000 of fines.
Article gives recap of the legal efforts targeting GCC:
- 7/26/20 – GCC starts indoor worship services
- 7/29/20 – Los Angeles county bans indoor worship if there are over 100 people attending or more than 25% of the building’s capacity is used. Singing is also banned during indoor worship.
- 8/5/20 – County issues cease and desist order warning of $1,000 fines and possible arrest if indoor worship services are held.
- 8/12/20 – John MacArthur, Grace Community Church Sue California for Banning Indoor Worship but Allowing Protests.
- 8/14/20 – Superior Court judge allowed church to hold indoor services.
- 8/15/20 – California Appellate Court reinstated ban on indoor worship.
- 8/20/20 – Los Angeles county filed contempt application against the pastor and church.
8/24/20 – Hot Air – Judge: California Church Not Barred From Holding Indoor Services – In a narrow ruling on 8/20/20, a Superior Court judge ruled there is no court order prohibiting Grace community Church for holding indoor worship services. The county had requested a order to close the church and imposed $20,000 of fines. The underlying issues of extensive restrictions on worship services were not addressed.
8/27/20 – Hot Air – Judge Once Again Refuses To Shut Down In-Person Worship At Los Angeles County Church – In the fourth court hearing, a California Superior Court judge dismissed a restraining order on Grace community Church and pastor John MacArthur on technical grounds, specifically the restraining order was “procedurally and substantially defective.” As a result the judge did not address the question of whether the county can impose $20,000 in fines for the heinous offense of worshiping in-person. This is the fourth try by the county to impose a restraining order
Author of the article provides an explanation why things unfolding the way they are.
He perceives the county wants the courts to enforce their wishes. Los Angeles County does not want a video spreading across the country of police dragging a pastor out of the pulpit in handcuffs. Far better for the courts to do the county’s dirty work.
Final paragraph suggests this may turn out to be an effort to run out the clock. Infection rates are declining rapidly in Los Angeles County and California so the county and state may soon deign to grant their sovereign permission to allow free exercise of religion. In that case all lawsuits will be moot and the county can pretend they won, or at least pretend they didn’t cave.