By Mark Ellis —
The city of Los Angeles is threatening to arrest one of the leading church figures in America because he continues to hold indoor services in defiance of the governor’s ban.
City officials delivered a cease-and-desist letter to Grace Community Church and its pastor, John MacArthur, for the violation, threatening a fine of $1000 a day or MacArthur’s arrest, the church’s attorneys reported to The Federalist.
Jenna Ellis, one of the attorneys for the church affirmed MacArthur’s resolve. ““The state has absolutely no power to impose the restrictions it is demanding,” she said. “This is not about health and safety, it is about targeting churches.”
On July 13th, Governor Newsom ordered churches in 30 counties throughout California to halt indoor services indefinitely. In response, MacArthur and his church continued meeting and issued a public statement declaring their freedom to worship.
“It has never been the prerogative of civil government to order, modify, forbid, or mandate worship,” Pastor MacArthur and the elder board stated. “Freedom of worship is a command of God, not a privilege granted by the state.”
“When any government official issues orders regulating worship (such as bans on singing, caps on attendance, or prohibitions against gatherings and services), he steps outside the legitimate bounds of his God-ordained authority as a civic official and arrogates to himself authority that God expressly grants only to the Lord Jesus Christ as sovereign over His Kingdom, which is the church. His rule is mediated to local churches through those pastors and elders who teach His Word (Matthew 16:18–19; 2 Timothy 3:16–4:2).
“Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services.”
On August 5th, L.A. Mayor Garcetti authorized the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to shut off water and electricity to homes, businesses and venues that host unpermitted large gatherings.
Pray this dire step will not be taken against churches that make a stand to defend their First Amendment rights.