A conservative, pro-life law firm announced on Wednesday that they will be legally representing Grace Community Church, a prominent evangelical church in Los Angeles that recently made headlines when they resumed in-person assembly despite California’s July 13 lockdown order.
The Thomas More Society, which describes itself as a “not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty,” said in a press release that attorneys Jenna Ellis and Charles LiMandri will represent Grace Community Church and its senior pastor, John MacArthur, as special counsel.
MacArthur and the church face potential legal repercussions after he and the church elders released a statement explaining why they had chosen not to comply with Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s renewed coronavirus lockdown order, which the firm’s release described as “illegitimate, over-broad, and unconstitutional[.]”
As The Daily Wire reported:
Citing Christ and the Bible as the ultimate authority over his congregation, MacArthur wrote in the lengthy blog post replete with scripture that “we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.”
In response, according to the Thomas More Society, “The City of Los Angeles through a cease and desist letter has threatened Grace Community Church and Pastor MacArthur specifically with a daily fine of $1000 or arrest.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told Religion News Service last week that its Environmental Health division “is investigating and will be reaching out to the church leaders to let them know they need to comply with the Health Officer Order.”
After Pastor @JohnMacArthur announced that his congregation at @GraceComChurch in Sun Valley, CA, would be assembling in obedience to God’s Word, he received a letter from LA county officials threatening repercussions such as fines & possible arrest. https://t.co/IKX2FSmdyc
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) August 2, 2020
LiMandri said, “It is unconstitutional for Governor Newsom and the State of California to discriminate against churches by treating them less favorably than other organizations and activities that are not protected by the First Amendment.”
Ellis, who also serves as private legal counsel to President Trump and senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, said, “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.”
In a statement to The Daily Wire, Ellis added, “Part of our goal here is to encourage other pastors throughout the country to take a stand for our constitutionally protected rights.”
During a recent interview with author and radio host Eric Metaxas about his church’s defiance, MacArthur tied in the church shut-downs with what he views as the wider decay of American culture. Explaining his belief that evil in society is restrained first by the human conscience, then by the family, the police, and religious institutions, MacArthur said all are presently under attack:
What we’ve seen in our society is the destruction of the human conscience — wiping out the law of God, retraining people’s brains with homosexuality, transgender immorality, you name it, so they don’t know what the law of God is. Their conscience doesn’t know how to function, and if it does, they’re told to silence their conscience because they shouldn’t feel guilty.
Then crush the family, wipe out the family, destroy fathers. And go after the police, defund the police. Now you’ve eliminated the personal restraint, the family restraint, the societal restraint. And then go after the church. Shut the church down and you’ve got a literal satanic free-for-all going on in society because they have removed all the God-given restraints. That’s exactly the process that we’re seeing play out.