Some good news has finally come out of California.
In what is to be considered a ‘historic win,’ a California court rejected LA county’s efforts to mandate that Grace Community Church comply with coronavirus induced restrictions, that would have prevented the church from holding in-person services.
Superior Court Judge James Chalfant was the presiding judge who denied the temporary restraining order against the church, after the church began holding indoor services which directly defied pandemic orders on July 26th.
A judge in California on Friday allowed a prominent pastor in Los Angeles to hold indoor in-person services despite Gov. Gavin Newsom's coronavirus restrictions, including banning singing in houses of worship.
Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church expressed his gratitude to Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant whose order requires congregants wear masks and practice social distancing.
“I am very grateful the court has allowed us to meet inside and we are happy for a few weeks to comply and respect what the judge has asked of us because he is allowing is to meet," MacAruther said in a statement. "This vindicates our desire to stay open and serve our people. This also gives us an opportunity to show that we are not trying to be rebellious or unreasonable, but that we will stand firm to protect our church against unreasonable, unconstitutional restrictions.”
Los Angeles County had sought a court order barring Grace Community Church from holding in-person services, arguing that they were an immediate health threat.
“Los Angeles County’s first and only objective is to save lives and protect the health of our residents and communities,” county officials said in a statement, adding that “we will continue to work through the legal system to ensure that the health officer orders are upheld, as these are the best tools we currently have to slow the spread of this lethal virus.”
The judge set a September hearing on the county's request for a preliminary injunction barring the church from holding indoor services.
Thomas More Society special counsel Jenna Ellis, who is representing the pastor along with the Rancho Sante Fe-law firm of LiMandri & Jonna, points out Los Angeles County, in its appeal, makes "several false claims," including that the order "allows ALL churches to open indoors" and that "without evidence thousands WILL BE exposed to [COVID-19]."
Prominent Trump supporter Franklin Graham gave his thoughts on Twitter:
California Globe with more:
The Los Angeles area congregation was represented by Jenna Ellis and the Rancho Santa Fe headquartered law firm of LiMandri & Jonna. Thomas More Society Special Counsel Erick Kaardal assisted the all-star team in putting forth MacArthur’s case.
In an interview this week, MacArthur told KTLA:
“We’re a church, and we’re going to trust those people to make adult decisions about the reality of their physical and spiritual health.”
Thomas More Society explains:
Hours after Grace Community Church filed suit to invalidate Los Angeles County’s unconstitutional restrictions on churches, the county filed for a temporary restraining order to force the church to stop holding indoor services and comply with unreasonable and over-broad demands.
Judge James Chalfant denied almost all of the county’s requests at the August 14 Los Angeles Superior Court hearing, agreeing with MacArthur and the church that it is the county’s burden to show why they should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion.
Attorneys for Grace Community Church explained that Los Angeles County was being unreasonable in its demands, and offered to have the congregation comply with face mask wearing and social distancing indoors until the matter could be fully heard. This was stipulated as a more reasonable action that that of the county’s rush to shut down church services. The judge agreed and set the full hearing for September 4, 2020, ordering the church to have congregants wear masks and social distance between family groups indoors.
“I am very grateful the court has allowed us to meet inside and we are happy for a few weeks to comply and respect what the judge has asked of us because he is allowing is to meet,” MacArthur said. “This vindicates our desire to stay open and serve our people. This also gives us an opportunity to show that we are not trying to be rebellious or unreasonable, but that we will stand firm to protect our church against unreasonable, unconstitutional restrictions.”
“This is a huge vindication for Pastor John and the Board of elders at Grace Community Church, who have simply asked for their right to worship the Lord together in church to be acknowledged and protected,” Attorney Jenna Ellis said.
“This result is indeed a great victory for all citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of religion,” LiMandri said. “This result makes it possible for the thousands of congregants of Grace to continue to gather together in their church to worship, while at the same time honoring the court’s requirement that reasonable and temporary safety measures be observed.
This is a huge victory for churches everywhere.
This should be a lesson for other churches effected by pandemic orders to take a stand.
it should also be a lesson to all the hateful protesters currently destroying poorly run cities such as Chicago, Seattle, and Portland:
This is what a true 'peaceful protest' looks like.