Grace Community Church and its Pastor John MacArthur won another victory in their journey to fight for their constitutional right to worship on Thursday when a judge awarded them the opportunity for a trial.
Despite multiple attempts by Los Angeles County to prevent the church from meeting, in which they imposed fines, threatened arrest, and even terminated a parking lot lease between the city and Grace, the church continued to disregard the orders from the county and keep meeting.
“I’m very grateful to Judge Beckloff for providing full due process and recognizing the importance of these constitutional protections. The reality is that the county cannot show that their order is even rational, much less necessary,” MacArthur said.
In a previous order by Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction that was intended to prohibit MacArthur and Grace from “conducting, participating in, or attending any indoor worship services.”
“It’s tyranny to even suggest that a government action cannot be challenged and must be obeyed without question. This case goes to the heart of what our founders designed for the purpose of the legitimate government—not to be above the rule of law,” said Thomas More Society Special Counsel Jenna Ellis. “Pastor MacArthur is simply holding church, which is clearly his constitutionally protected right in this country.”
While the trial will not officially commence until 2021, the judge agreed to host a hearing in mid-November “to consider the scope of the challenge to the validity of the preliminary injunction order for purposes of the contempt trial.”
“This ruling prevents Los Angeles County’s attempted rush to judgment in its continued prosecution of Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church for courageously exercising their First Amendment rights,” said Special Counsel Charles LiMandri. “We are pleased that Judge Beckloff indicated he agreed with the major points that we made on behalf of Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church and we are very gratified that the judge’s ruling today reflects that he appreciates the importance of the constitutionally protected rights at issue in this case.”
Despite the obstacles the church faced over the last six months, MacArthur said the church will continue to be faithful in meeting and worshiping together.
“We are holding church. The Lord Jesus requires us to meet together and we will continue to do that because we are commanded to and because it is our right,” MacArthur stated.