The legal battle between John MacArthur and Los Angeles County is set to come to a close next week, with the government poised to pay Grace Community Church 800k in legal fees and compensation for repeatedly taking them to court last summer and seeking to shut them down.
Last year MacArthur and Grace Community Church (CGC) made national news and became the face of the movement of congregations that refused to shut down its services, insisting on having them in person, in their church building, unmasked, in violation of California lockdown laws.
In response to their biblical and principled stand, the County got a court order against GCC, demanding they stop. Instead of submitting to the government’s will, the church deliberately continued to have church services and disregarded an injunction issued against them. The County wanted them to be found in contempt for flouting the injunction, but the church argued that the injunction was granted on the faulty premise of an unconstitutional order, and should have rightly been ignored.
Rather than adjudicate the contempt charges, GCC lawyers argued that MacArthur and GCC were first entitled to a full-blown trial on the merits of their lawsuit challenging Gavin Newsom’s shutdown orders, proposing that “a final determination on the constitutionality of the orders must occur before the County could seek contempt against MacArthur for merely holding church.”
The Judge agreed, allowing GCC to continue meeting while the contempt charges were pursued, which took several months. Before the case could be adjudicated, the Supreme Court ruled that California’s lockdown rules against churches were indeed unconstitutional, effectively ending the ability of the County to come against them.
But MacArthur and GCC did not simply passively defend against the lawsuit when they were first threatened, but also countersued the state and city officials, claiming that their first amendment rights were violated.
They’ve now seen the fruits of their labor.
In a recent letter to supporters of the John MacArthur Charitable Trust, MacArthur called the County’s decision to back down, pay all their legal fees, and drop all charges a “monumental victory for Grace Community Church” and explained that “We know that there is no circumstance that can cause the church to close. The church is not only a building but is the bride of Christ and exists to proclaim the truth.”
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