“I’m open for a jail ministry – bring it on.” These were the fighting words from California pastor John MacArthur, who is happy to risk prison time by keeping his church open.
MacArthur, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Greater Los Angeles, is putting The First Amendment to the test in the modern era by keeping his church doors open.
He believes the church is an essential part of the community and does not fall into the non-essential category, which authorities believe it is. For example, in Nevada, churches have been forced to stay closed while casinos are open.
In an op-ed with Daily Wire, the high profile pastor stated, “One nation under God.
“That phrase, recently and conspicuously omitted from the flag salute at some events during the Democratic National Convention, reflects the intentions of America’s founding fathers. They understood the necessity of acknowledging and submitting to divine authority — and not just any god, but the God revealed in the Bible. That same understanding informs our Constitution, which itself does not grant us rights, but rather recognizes, identifies, and defends those rights granted to us by God alone.
“Truth be told, the notion of a secular state is a lie; all government is ordained by God. The Bible makes that very point when it commands Christians to submit to governing authorities: “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). And even when the government opposes, abuses, and persecutes the church, Christians can take comfort in the fact that such cruelty is not outside of God’s sovereign control or His divine plan.
“But what happens when those governing authorities refuse to acknowledge God and ignore His law?”
The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction on September 10, 2020, against Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur, refusing to follow the U.S. and California State constitutional protections for churches. The ruling fails to apply the appropriate constitutional standard of review.
The order prohibits the church from “conducting, participating in, or attending any indoor worship services” and also bans outdoor worship unless onerous restrictions are followed in a heavy-handed move against the internationally known preacher and his congregation. MacArthur and Grace Community Church’s attorneys from the Thomas More Society said the judge refused to consider their important separation of powers arguments “in any meaningful fashion” and essentially “ducked the issue.”
“Our nation is on fire, and many of our leaders are content to fiddle and watch it burn,” MacArthur continued. “Those of us who are believers urgently need to pray for them — that, like Nebuchadnezzar, their eyes will be opened to the futility of their ways and the clarity of God’s law. We need to flood this dark world with the light of God’s truth. We need to be the salt that preserves this rapidly rotting culture.
“We need to bring the truth of God’s Word and His law to bear on the hearts of men and women who cannot comprehend the confusion and corruption that dominate their lives.”
Christians are divided on their opinion of churches defying government orders. On one side is the argument that The First Amendment protects churches and authorities have no right to close them down. On the side is the argument that churches should obey authorities and that meeting together in confined spaces risks further spread of COVID.