Grace Community Church Wins $800,000 Settlement Over Attempted Covid Restrictions
The congregation led by noted Bible teacher and author, John MacArthur has won a total of $800,0000 in a settlement between officials in Los Angeles County and the State of California over their attempts to curtail the congregation’s practice of the Christian faith during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
When ordered in July 2020 to not gather for worship by the County and State governments, the congregation and pastor defied the order saying:
“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”.
Their reasoning was that the orders violated biblical teaching as well as the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, which states;
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.
Based on the understanding that Governor Newsom and Los Angeles County had over-stepped their boundaries biblically and constitutionally, the congregation sued the both governments and won a settlement of $400,000 from each.
During the Pandemic, governors of a number of states acted arbitrarily and this seemed to strengthen the case of Grace Community Church and other congregations challenging their authority. The courts agreed and found in their favour.
In explaining their position, MacArthur and the elders of the congregation explained their position:
“When officials restrict church attendance to a certain number, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the saints to gather as the church. When officials prohibit singing in worship services, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the people of God to obey the commands of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. When officials mandate distancing, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible to experience the close communion between believers that is commanded in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In all those spheres, we must submit to our Lord”.
According to MacArthur, the cash award will go toward paying legal fees incurred in the action.
The megachurch congregation had originally acquiesced to the orders to not meet but changed as the bans on gathering became self-evidently arbitrary and discriminatory.