Pastor John MacArthur is facing legal action after openly defying California’s restrictions on church gatherings. Now the embattled pastor is receiving special counsel from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Jenna Ellis, and religious freedom expert Charles LiMandri.
“I stand firm with Grace Community Church, its Elder Board, and Pastor MacArthur in biblical truth and the protections American churches are provided by our Constitution,” Ellis told The Christian Post. “I look forward to advocating on their behalf and hopefully encouraging other pastors and churches to also have the courage of Pastor MacArthur to stand firm that church is essential.”
The legal support comes as Grace Community Church received a cease and desist letter from the City of Los Angeles, threatening the church with a daily fine of $1,000 or arrest, if they continue to meet for indoor worship services.
Last month, California issued a measure that banned indoor operations, including at houses of worship, in many counties across the state. MacArthur publicly declared this move an “overreach” and, after prayer and counsel with his elders, decided to reopen his church despite the edict.
In a blog posted to his church’s website, MacArthur wrote:
“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.”
That following Sunday, July 26, MacArthur stepped up to the pulpit and was met with a standing ovation. Without much for remarks, he immediately read from Scripture.
In an interview with Fox News on Monday, the pastor noted that the government does not have the power to tell the church what it can or can't do.
"Never before has the government invaded the territory that belongs only to the Lord Jesus Christ and told us we can't meet, we can't worship, we can't sing. There's no power given to the government to make those kinds of calls against us," he said.
The Thomas Moore Society released a statement Wednesday morning announcing its support for MacArthur:
“The State of California is using a pretext of COVID-19 to attempt to force churches to close indefinitely. This illegitimate, over-broad, and unconstitutional order to indefinitely cease assembly, and exercising their religion and sincerely held religious beliefs, forced Grace Community Church to defy the order and continue exercising their rights, seeking shelter in the guaranteed religious freedom protections of the United States and California constitutions.
“Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community church are not disobeying the Constitution; it is California’s Governor Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti that are defying their constitutional obligation to protect religious freedom and church assembly.”