The state of California and Los Angeles are settling a lawsuit with a church after the lead pastor refused to follow the health orders.
A year ago in Los Angeles, a superior court judge gave Grace Community Church an injunction: they could not hold in-person worship services. The ban on the megachurch's gatherings was based on how services were conducted considering COVID-19, particularly physical distancing and wearing masks.
Now, the state of California and Los Angeles have agreed to pay John MacArthur's church $800,000 to settle the lawsuit that followed.
“We are very pleased to see Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church’s First Amendment protections fully vindicated in this case," one of the church's representatives with the Thomas More Society, Jenna Ellis, tweets.
“It has been a hard-fought battle to preserve religious liberty and we hope that this result will encourage Californians, and all Americans, to continue to stand firm that church is essential.”
Very pleased with the approval of an $800,000 settlement and total win for my clients, @johnmacarthur and @GraceComChurch, on behalf of @ThomasMoreSoc.— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) August 31, 2021
The church IS essential.
Our statement: pic.twitter.com/Rin5W7eA8x
This comes after the U.S Supreme Court overturned public health orders targeting places of worship, saying California could not ban indoor worship. In a statement, the county said overturning the orders were the appropriate thing to do.
“From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County has been committed to protecting the health and safety of its residents. We are grateful to the county’s faith organizations for their continued partnership to keep their congregants and the entire community safe and protected from COVID-19.”
The health orders were modified in December to allow in-person services. The Roys Report says MacArthur, in a Sunday sermon, told his congragation that the virus likely spread around the church in December. He and his wife both contracted COVID-19, along with many others in their church. In the same sermon, MacAuthor said "there is no evidence that can be traced back to Grace Church in those situations" of people getting sick or dying from COVID-19.