Update: Decided to make this a 3 part series. Next post – the effort to suppress religious freedom will not succeed.
Efforts to restrict the first amendment right of free expression of religion are growing in strength here in California. At least three counties are participating in the effort.
Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church are standing in the gap, but other churches are also receiving pressure including planted spies, as discussed below. This is second article in this specific series.
Previous post gave recap of enforcement efforts against Grace Community Church. At end of this post there is a great comment from the GCC elders why the state dictacts are a direct restriction of religious expression
8/24/20 – PJ Media – California’s All-Out War on Church Worship Intensifies With Bans, Fines, and Sending In Spies – Three churches in California standing up to the oppressive restrictions on religious activities are receiving increased pressure from the state and county.
- Worship in a sanctuary is banned.
- Singing or chanting of any sort is prohibited in worship, even when the worship is conducted in a private home.
Rob McCoy, pastor of Godspeak Cavalry Chapel in Ventura County was fined $3000 personally for having three worship services which maintained social distancing. He and John Does number 1 through 1000 were issued a cease and desist order to stop worship. The odd phrasing of John Does up to 1,000 means that every member of the congregation can be added to the order merely by a simple filing to add names. That means the county has ordered, ordered, every person in the congregation to stop worshiping.
Santa Clara County
In a separate county, North Valley Baptist Church had county officials visit the worship service to spy on the congregation. Based on the spy, the church received a $10,000 fine for singing during two worship services. Singing.
Sending spies to observe worship and report back to the government is reminiscent of the strategy of the Stasi in East Germany.
Or the KGB back in the bad old days of the Evil Empire (i.e. the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).
Or the PSB in China today.
Santa Clara County officials taped a copy of the cease and desist order to the glass door of the church. That is a very dark and dangerous reversal of Martin Luther nailing his declaration to the church door in Wittenberg.
The order conceded the “County understands that singing is an intimate and meaningful component of religious worship” as it ordered the church to cease such religious expression.
Los Angeles County
On 8/24 Grace community Church and its Senior Pastor John MacArthur were in court for the fourth time trying to regain their First Amendment rights to worship.
In a declaration dated 8/23/20, Rev. MacArthur outlined the actions taken so far by the church in their efforts to comply with the health orders. You might want to check out the declaration for yourself. It is a remarkable effort to stand up to religious oppression.
He went on to explain the ludicrousness of the restrictions on worship:. Following quote is from his sermon on 7/26/20:
“(A)lcohol kills 3 million people a year; and all the liquor stores were open… So far this year the death of quarter of a million people can be traced back to smoking. Cigarettes are for sale. Alcohol’s for sale everywhere; you can have all you want. You can have a run on alcohol to the point that it eats up the aluminum cans. Smoking kills a quarter of a million people, cigarettes are available. By the way, the state has an interesting statistic: 441,000 kids under 18 will die prematurely from smoking. Almost half a million kids currently under 18 will die someday from smoking. Where’s the ban on cigarettes?…
“Kill people with alcohol. Kill people with cigarettes. Kill people with diseases because the hospitals don’t function. Lock people up so that everyone’s under stress, and make sure churches can’t meet where it’s the only place where they could find hope and help. We will not bow to such bizarre standards. We all follow our Lord and trust Him.”
The declaration reminds us that the state of California banned indoor worship on 7/13/20 and Los Angeles County banned indoor worship on 7/14/20.
Paragraph 18 quotes a statement from the church’s Elders explain why “the government has no authority to prohibit such worship:”
“When officials restrict church attendance to a certain number, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the Saints to gather as the church. When officials prohibit singing in worship services, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the people of God to obey the commandments of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. When officials mandate distancing, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible to experience the close communion between believers that is commanded in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In all those spheres, we must submit to our Lord.”
The could have added, but didn’t, a citation of Acts 5:29 which says
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!
Paragraph 22 points out there is no place where such a large congregation can worship outside and in addition the heat makes it dangerous to do so. Quoting:
“The worship-bans appear to take the position that we should lock our doors, and force our congregants together to worship the Lord in parking lots, in parks, or perhaps beaches-but never in any church. From Grace Community Church’s perspective, this is nonsensical, and we view it as a direct ban on engaging in the worship which our faith requires. The size of our congregation means that there is no place for it to meet outdoors; the summer heat makes meeting outdoors unhealthy and even dangerous; our experts have refuted that meeting indoors significantly aids in the spread of the coronavirus; and most principally, Grace community Church is sanctuary itself is a spiritual refuge for our congregants-a refuge of which the county has no right to deprive them.”
If you have the time, I heartily recommend you read the entire Declaration. By my count it contains a mere 35 citations of scripture.