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Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA., and Pastor John MacArthur have been in a great legal battle with the City of Los Angeles and the courts of California regarding the liberty of Christians to gather in worship during the C-19 declared crisis.
CBS Los Angeles news reported September 4, 2020,
L.A. County sued Grace Community Church on Aug. 14 after it began holding indoor services on Sundays. The church, led by Pastor John MacArthur, filed a suit against the county in response and that case is awaiting trial in Burbank Superior Court. MacArthur has argued that he’s holding services not to be “rebellious” but because “our Lord has commanded us to come together.” Attorney Amnon Siegel, who is arguing on behalf of the county, pushed back saying “religion doesn’t trump health and safety.” Outdoor religious services are permitted in the county alongside other measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Once it is safe to return to indoor services and resume other operations, county officials said coronavirus gathering restrictions will be relaxed.
The LA Times had the following article on September 10, 2020.
L.A. County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff sided with public health officials, who took legal action last month to enforce health orders against Grace Community Church, an evangelical congregation in Sun Valley that has been holding Sunday worship services indoors since July 26. “While the court is mindful that there is no substitute for indoor worship in the ‘spiritual refuge’ of a sanctuary, the court cannot ignore the County Health Order does not dictate a ban on worship,” Beckloff wrote in his decision granting the county’s request for a preliminary injunction. The order remains in effect until the issue is resolved. The order allows outdoor services — which were already permitted under the county’s public health order — only if the church follows physical distancing and face covering measures. The order also requires the church to allow county workers to enter its property to post the order and verify the church is in compliance. The church has not allowed county public health workers to view its indoor services, according to court records.
Many of the pastors across the nation that have taken a completely different stand, fully cooperating with the government mandates.
Pastor Andy Stanly, pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia, has cancelled services until after January 1, 2021.
Many Christians have asked, “What is the big issue, Pastor MacArthur? You can hold service outside.”
Milwaukie, OR – Violating the Constitution
The “big issue” is the same biblical and Constitution issue I faced in the 1990’s while serving as senior pastor at Harvest Christian Center in Milwaukie, Oregon.
The City of Milwaukie required churches to get a business license to conduct church in the city limits.
These licenses had to be renewed annually.
There were no fees involved, the church simply had to file an annual application for renewal of their license to continue holding church services in the city.
Obviously, the city also had the authority to deny the license.
I requested a meeting with the mayor of Milwaukie to discuss the city ordinance.
In that meeting, I pointed out the right to license is the right to control.
I showed him a twenty-minute video produced by Wall Builders and attorney David Barton regarding the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Mayor was shocked and said he would take the matter to the city manager and city council.
I met with the city manager after the mayor had spoken with him.
He agreed, the right to license is the right to control and the law violated the Constitution of the United States.
His answer was shocking. “Sue me. You don’t have enough money to sue me.”
Our movement’s attorney agreed, “We don’t have enough money to sue him.”
I filed the application each year with a written letter of protest.
Right to license is the right to control
What is happening in California and in many cities across the nation is the same principle.
The ruling of judge Beckloff in agreement with the City of Los Angeles states:
The order allows outdoor services — which were already permitted under the county’s public health order, gives the City of Los Angeles the right to dictate when, where, and how a church will hold worship.
In the case of the Governor of California, he assumed the right to dictate singing in a worship service is not be permitted.
The City of Los Angeles has dictated churches may only meet outside.
September 13, 2020, Pastor MacArthur provided the requirements demanded by the City of Los Angeles for them to conduct outdoor meetings.
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- No indoor meetings at all.
- Preregistration of persons who come on the church property.
- People only allowed on property for scheduled events.
- Every person who comes on the property is to be screened and have their temperature taken at the entry.
- We all must maintain six feet of social distance at all times, everywhere, including the parking lot and the restrooms.
- Every other parking spot must be left vacant.
- Marked pathways to maintain social distance, keeping people apart, monitored by staff monitors.
- Everyone always wearing a mask.
- Restroom monitors maintaining six feet social distancing in restrooms.
- Tape on the ground marking distance.
- Signs indicating these mandates and also full discloser on social media.
- Restrooms are to be used during the services to minimize the rush.
- No hymn books, no communion, no offering containers, no pew Bibles, no singing, no hugging, no shaking hands.
- Disposable seat covers changed between services.
- Services have to be shortened.
- Based upon separation, we could only meet in the tent with a maximum of 300-400 people.
- Anyone who comes in contact with someone outside their family for more than fifteen minutes must self-quarantine for two weeks.
Do you see, the level of authority that is being seized by the state and the city?
Compliance with these unbiblical and un-Constitutional dictates only gives the governing authorities assurance they have the right to dictate to the church when, where, and how they may worship.
Once that right is granted to the state and the city, through the compliance of the church, those same government agencies will assume even more rights to dictate to the church what may and may not be taught and preached by the church.
The mayor of the City of Houston already attempted to assume that power. FoxNews reported, October 14, 2014:
The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.
The mayor later dropped the subpoena because of overwhelming negative response from the citizens.
This was a “shot over the bow” by the progressives who want to control the message of the Christian church.
The State of California attempted to control the message of the church, Christian schools, and Christian colleges.
April 2018 a bill was introduced into the state legislature to restrict how pastors and Christian institutions teach biblical morality regarding homosexuality.
The California Assembly Judicial Committee passed a resolution in June 2019 requiring pastors to affirm homosexuality.
The same resolution condemns the use of conversion therapy.
We must stand fast in this time of Satanic attack
This is nothing more and nothing less than Lucifer seeking to marginalize and neutralize the church.
He knows the plans and strategies for his kingdom advancement cannot go forward if there is a powerful and anointed church in the United States.
He seeks to marginalize the church by prompting government leaders to declare it nonessential.
He is attempting to neutralize the church by using the directives of governors, county officials, and mayors that remove singing and worship; stop the koinonia (close fellowship) by requiring masks (no smiles) no handshakes, no hugging; no large gatherings for encouragement and power building; and controlling the message that brings conviction of sin and establishes moral absolutes.
We must standfast in the face of these satanic attacks.
If we compromise now the enemy will gain a major stronghold that will advance his kingdom.
He will not be content until he has totally removed the church from the USA culture.
You must stand fast in your life – Satan will try to marginalize your walk. Cloth yourself in the armor of God.
Stand firm on the Word of God as absolute truth and the guidebook of your life.
Resolve to not allow fear, uncertainty, anxiety, or doubt to fill your heart. Heavenly Father’s love for you will not fail.
He has promised to never abandon you and His grace is sufficient.