Los Angeles County-based Grace Community Church ignited controversy last month for announcing they would begin holding indoor gatherings in defiance of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus-related restrictions.
On Friday, a judge handed the prominent church a major legal victory.
Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon ruled that Grace Community Church can continue to hold indoor services as long as worshippers wear face coverings and practice social distancing.
According to the Associated Press, Los Angeles County had sought a court order to bar the church community from continuing to meet indoors. County officials claimed the gatherings posed an immediate public health threat.
What was the reaction?
Pastor John MacArthur expressed gratitude over the ruling.
“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 in a statement, Fox News reported.
He continued, “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 officials, however, were not happy. They said they would “continue to work through the legal system to ensure that the health officer orders are upheld.”
MacArthur, who has likened the gatherings to a “peaceful protest,” recently explained why he made the decision to re-open the doors to Grace Community Church.
The pastor told Billy Hallowell that the impact of COVID-19 has not been what advocates of restrictions claim, which meant the lockdown measures no longer made sense.
“Grace Church is going to meet … and we’re going to continue to meet and we’re going to always meet because Jesus Christ is the head of the church. Jesus is Lord,” MacArthur explained. “And government has a certain purview given by God, but it doesn’t cross over into the realm of the kingdom of God, so we’re going to meet.”