Pastor John MacArthur’s church has been told it can hold indoor worship with singing and no limit on the number of people attending.
In-person services have continued to take place at MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in defiance of California’s lockdown orders. MacArthur, whose church is located in Sun Valley, has maintained that the lockdown restrictions go too far.
The battle escalated when MacArthur filed a lawsuit against the state of California. Last week, Los Angeles County then moved to impose a restraining order to stop the services taking place.
The lawsuit filed against California questioned why protesters were allowed to gather in their thousands while congregations were being restricted.
“When many went to the streets to engage in ‘political’ or ‘peaceful’ protests purportedly against racism and police brutality, these protestors refused to comply with the pandemic restrictions,” the church argued.
“Instead of enforcing the public health orders, public officials were all too eager to grant a de facto exception for these favored protestors.
“California targeted the wrong groups. California first lifted restrictions on gatherings that occurred outdoors — blessing after-the-fact the illegal conduct of the ‘George Floyd’ protestors. California then banned singing in worship services and then shut them all down — unless they could modify their services to operate identically to the now-legal protests.”
On Friday, Judge James Chalfant, of the Los Angeles Superior Court, sided with the pastor by stating that the burden was on the state to demonstrate why it should be allowed to infringe on the constitutionally protected right of churches to exercise their religious freedom.
A full hearing is set for September 4 but the judge has permitted the church to continue meeting indoors on the condition that worshippers wear masks and observe social distancing between different households.
MacArthur said of the judge’s temporary order: “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.”