Los Angeles County has informed Grace Community Church, led by Pastor John MacArthur, that it is terminating a 45-year-old parking lot lease with the church and has given the congregation 30 days to vacate the space.
In a letter dated Aug. 30, the county threatened to “remove Grace’s personal property” if the church failed to evacuate the premises by Oct. 1.
For weeks, the Sun Valley-based church has been embroiled in a legal battle with local and state authorities for refusing to comply with California Gov. Newsom’s order for churches in some counties to refrain from indoor services amid the pandemic.
On July 24, MacArthur and the elders of the church announced they “cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on … weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings.
“Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands,” they said.
In response, county officials threatened MacArthur with repercussions such as fines, and even possible arrest, if the church failed to comply with state orders.
In addition, the county has brought the church to court multiple times, seeking to obtain a temporary restraining order against the congregation and MacArthur. On Aug. 25, a California Superior Court judge denied the county’s fourth attempt to obtain a restraining order, stating that the renewed application was not “based on any new or different law.”
The church’s supporters believe that the eviction is just one more act of retaliation from the county.
“This is certainly targeted discrimination against Grace Community Church and a clear violation of their constitutional rights,” Franklin Graham posted on Facebook.
“Los Angeles County is retaliating against Grace Community Church for simply exercising their constitutionally protected right to hold church and challenging an unreasonable, unlawful health order,” said Jenna Ellis, special counsel at the Thomas More Society, which is representing the church. “In America, we have a judicial system to ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its power, and Grace Community Church has every right to be heard without fear of reprisal. The Democrats’ message to Americans is clear—if you don’t bow to every whim of tyranny, the government will come after you.
“The church has peacefully held this lease for 45 years and the only reason the county is attempting eviction is because John MacArthur stood up to their unconstitutional power grab. This is harassment, abusive and unconscionable.”
The next hearing dealing with the county’s request for a preliminary injunction against the church is scheduled to take place on Sept. 4 in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Photo: Thomas More Society