In late July, Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church opened the doors of his church to several thousand people despite an order from California Governor Gavin Newsom that churches must limit their services to either 100 people or 25% capacity, whichever is less. “I’m so happy to welcome you to the Grace Community Church peaceful protest,” he announced to the audience of six or seven thousand who had gathered. In a back and forth court battle, the church won an injunction to meet last Friday, but an appeals court overturned the ruling Saturday, effectively banning the meetings. MacArthur, however, opened his doors again on Sunday.
The Left supports the state order. One CNN article read that people came to the church “like the animals to Noah’s Ark,” and that most were maskless and failed to social distance. Los Angeles County officials said in a statement that their “first and only objective is to save lives and protect the health of our residents and communities,” and that they will continue to legally uphold the health order. Regarding the court’s decision to prohibit the church’s indoor gathering, one critic wrote:
“It’s the right decision and one MacArthur will very soon, I’m sure, denounce as a form of Christian Persecution. It’s not enough for him to be able to host services, which he absolutely can. He wants to put as many people as possible in danger, and if the government stops him from doing that, he’ll paint them as the enemy.”Hemant Mehta, atheist activist and editor of the Friendly Atheist blog
The Right generally supports the church’s stance. It has often been noted that there is a double standard in response to racial protests versus other gatherings such as church meetings.
“This is Grace Community Church standing on the side of the law against these overreaching tyrants that are defying their oaths of office when they are commanded, mandated by the Constitution to preserve and protect our right to free exercise of religion.”Jenna Ellis, Trump 2020 Senior Adviser and attorney representing Grace Community Church
Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, praised the initial court case decision as an “important win for freedom & for our Constitutional right to assemble & worship.”
MacArthur has also received criticism from some pastors. Davenant Institute President Brad Littlejohn wrote, “Rev. MacArthur no doubt believes he is taking a courageous stand. I fear that he is rather a confused shepherd, leading countless sheep straight into the line of fire.”
Respected Christians who are openly mocking Grace Community Church along w/ @johnmacarthur, @Phil_Johnson_ , etc. because they want to worship Christ unhindered by unconstitutional demands of the government supports my intuition that our nation may be under divine judgment.— Scott Christensen (@pastorscottc) August 16, 2020