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Judge Rejects Request to Hold John MacArthur & Grace Community Church in Contempt

By Julie Roys
Pastor John MacArthur

A judge today rejected a request by Los Angeles County to hold Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in contempt for defying county restrictions and holding indoor worship services.

Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff rejected the county’s request filed earlier today to impose more than $20,000 in fines on both the church and MacArthur.

Thomas More Society Attorney Jenna Ellis, who’s representing MacArthur and Grace, said in a statement that she was pleased with the outcome. Yet she noted that the county again intends to seek a restraining order against MacArthur and his Sun Valley, California, megachurch.

“LA County continues to harass and target Pastor MacArthur,” Ellis said. “Having failed to get a court order to shut down the church they have sought three times, they’re going to try again by hauling us back into court. . . . We will simply continue to defend our client’s constitutionally protected rights because church is essential.”

Meanwhile, the county said in a statement that it was grateful that Judge Beckloff had “upheld the validity” of its health order, which Grace had “challenged as unconstitutional.”

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“This is a matter of life and death for our most vulnerable residents as we continue to battle this pandemic,” the county said.

Today’s ruling is the latest in a back-and-forth legal battle between government officials and Grace Community Church that began several weeks ago.

On July 26, Grace began holding indoor services, asserting in a statement from MacArthur that the church had a biblical duty to remain open.

Ten days later, government authorities responded with a cease-and-desist letter, threatening Grace with $1,000 or arrest if the church continued to gather indoors. (The county imposed no restriction on gathering outdoors.)

After a second lockdown order, Grace filed a lawsuit, arguing that California was applying an “unequal” restriction on the church’s free exercise of religion. The lawsuit argued that the state was applying a double standard by allowing racial protests to go unchecked, while simultaneously restricting religious gatherings.

Last Friday, a Superior Court Judge ruled in Grace’s favor and said the church could continue to hold indoor services. However, he asked that worshippers wear masks and social distance.

MacArthur responded that the church was “happy for a few weeks to comply and respect what the judge has asked of us.”

However, the next day, a California Appellate Court reversed that ruling and ordered that the church not meet indoors.

Grace met anyway, and MacArthur told the congregation, “The good news is that you’re here. You’re not distancing, and you’re not wearing masks.”

Today, the county accused MacArthur and Grace in its contempt application of “willfully” violating two court orders and “placing themselves and the community at large in grave risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.”

It added that the “enjoyment of all rights are subject” to “reasonable conditions” deemed essential to the health and safety of the community. And it accused MacArthur and Grace of “placing their right to worship indoors above the health and welfare of County residents.”

Attorney Ellis replied by calling the county’s request of the court an “unconstitutional attack against Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church.” She added, “Pastor MacArthur is standing firm that church is essential and has no plans to yield to this tyrannical board.”

A hearing on the county’s request to prohibit indoor services is set for Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.



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39 Responses

  1. I’m very glad to hear the judge rejected this request by the Los Angeles County to hold Johnny Mac and GCC in contempt.

    I would rather the Los Angeles County prosecutors go after real criminals such as the rioters, looters, anarchists, gangs, and drug dealers that are terrorizing our cities. Enough already.

    1. I think we’re reaching a point where there is not much to be gained by arguing JonnyMac is right! JonnyMac is not!

      Some of you agree. Some of you don’t. Fine.

      What is there to be gained by posting these death numbers?

      One is a disease that can be fatal, the other is an intentional act of murder.

      In Chicago, from “Jan. 1 through the end of July, there were 440 homicides in Chicago and 2,240 people shot.”

      Are the Christians of Chicagoland crying out against this in prayer?

      Even the liberal mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot has spoken against the rioters and looters in the city she’s responsible for.

      Consider the discord violent looters and violent protestors (I know not all are violent) are creating for LA. Or those 548 homicides.

      Going after a pastor is one thing. What about the violence hurting your city? Are you praying against that? Are you praying for the Church in Chicago and Los Angeles and the enemies the Church as a whole? Are you praying for her to wake up?

      That’s the crux here.

          1. Alice G: Can you elaborate on your comment about Michael Mahoney and why this is a cover-up and smoke screen for him?

          2. What happened to Michael Mahoney. I’m a long time adjunct member of Grace (I go when I am free and feel like it), but went enough to know that if you do not agree with Jmac and his lieutenants you will be out.

          3. Michael Mahoney is an evil and dangerous man. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. The truth will come out.

          4. Please elaborate on why Mahoney had to leave the church! Pastor MacArthur announced it today before communion and I am very distraught. He was the first pastor to counsel me when I began attending Grace several yrs ago. His wife has been a blessing to our ladies group, his two daughters worked in the church coffee shop… They are/were extended family to many of us and their abrupt banishment is shocking and heartbreaking. Furthermore, it appears he was still on campus as of a few days ago. Would you, kindly, tell me what’s going on with that??

          5. I don’t think the reason for Mahoney’s ouster has been, or will be, made public from GCC.

            Paul Twiss is no longer an elder, either. That was a recent change.

            I wonder how some of the other former pastors, elders, leaders, etc. made their exits? And how others will soon see their end? Rich Gregory got a partnership in Missouri …

    2. McArthur has a PhD in Biblical literature, he is not a scientist, epidemiologist nor a medical doctor… when he says survival rate against Covid is 99.6% he sound sooo stupid.. if he spends 5 minutes in ICU with me, trust me, his perspective will change…. I’m starting to lose respect for him when every time he gives advice on the Corona virus,let me say this that McArthur is not qualified on this subject… since he declared that “ there is no pandemic “ he will not get the vaccine, it won’t be available for him, not until he confess that there is a pandemic….and APOLOGIZES FOR SAYING SO STUPID REMARK… we nurses in the congregation, when we heard this we CRINGED…we will never forget how dumb he sounded…on the other hand, McArthur is right saying it is better to be in heaven with Jesus then being here on earth… but what about people who are “non-believers “ in the church that is trying to become believers? Suffice to say, I’m just trying to be fair here, I love McArthur’s teaching on the Bible verse by verse, I still listen to his sermons almost non stop, I JUST CANT BELIEVE HE GOT INTO THIS MESS ABOUT CORONA VIRUS… didn’t appreciate Austin Duncan egging McArthur on belittling mask requirement on the stage during Q&A session… only GOD IS GOD, McArthur is a messenger, I will forgive him for getting into this Covid mess.Let me remind you, if you get the Covid-19 and get hospitalized, your out of pocket payment for your portion of insurance will be approximately $1 million… go ask millionaire McArthur for help with that, he can help 14 people since his wealth is $14.2 million

  2. I’ll say it again. I stand with MacArthur. Too many pastors have given in too easily to the governments that prohibit them from meeting in fellowship and worship. Outdoor worship is good, but in Illinois that will likely end in November. Then what? November–March or April we won’t be able to meet outside. Live streaming is something that can be a supplement, but not a substitute, for indoor worship in the winter. Restrictions for indoor services is something one might expect in China or Korea, but not in America. No one is forcing anyone to attend an indoor service.

    Recently, I attended two wedding receptions indoors (no masks), two graduation parties (no masks), twelve hours in an airplane and eight hours in airports (many did not wear their masks properly), and we were definitely not socially distanced on the plane. As we ate or drank, we did not wear masks. I’ve attended outdoor church services with no mask and very little social distancing, and no sickness. By the way, I have three co-morbidities, and I am not afraid of COVID. Call me stupid, but I’d rather be stupid than afraid. I cannot live my life in fear. Am I worried about giving COVID to someone else? Not really. If I have the slightest indication of being “off” some day, I will isolate myself. There are mixed reports of passing COVID as an asymptomatic person. I’ll take my chances.

    1. Taking prudent measures to avoid contracting and/or spreading COVID-19–such as masks and social distancing–doesn’t mean that one is “afraid” of COVID any more than taking prudent measures to stay out of the middle of a highway means one is “afraid” of cars.

      1. People who don’t believe the conflicting reports about deaths from COVID-19 and those who died of other causes but had also contracted the virus believe they are being prudent by working and living life wisely in other areas. Your reasoning would leave people living in fear, wearing masks and social distancing for the rest of their lives because COVID-19 will always exist like every other virus. Nobody lives on the highway.

      1. Sams: “I believe you have…” That sounds like an opinion, no? I thought no opinions were allowed in your universe?

        It also seems like you get a particular high off of being snotty to people. More than anyone else who comments on this blog, you have been the most disrespectful to people with whom you disagree with. Good luck with that approach.

    2. Thanks for your response. Good points here. Please note that many smaller churches in CA – ones that meet in school auditoriums or other business places that were shut down for COVID – had few choices regarding next steps in worshiping. Those churches aren’t at fault for not taking the “grand stand” like GCC. They aren’t sinning or pandering to government. They’ve found other ways to worship, and are using tech to bridge the gaps until they can find a place to physically meet again. And these pastors are experiencing the very real burdens and pains of our vulnerable saints. Would that suffering be worthless to such pastors?

      Is JM suffering? No. Look deeper for Trump alliances, power, $$$, “humble arrogance”. I grieve when I say this about my former pastor. There’s more to it than defending the freedom to worship.

  3. excellent reads along with Websites to protect your rights. Read about Rick Martin and his lawgroup.
    SSBAmerica site has a less than 17 minute video of “mother of all video’s”, note the State of California and click on that read.

    This article along with Willow Creek and Harvest Bible Church receiving Millions in Covid $ (money) at this time, proves point Church Building is an Administration 501c3 Corporation=Businesses.
    Know, so many people that didn’t want the false church buildings and pastorate being inane, inept and defunct entity and self-serving. Would be nice if these false Corporations were to sell all their Businesses and Real Estate and give it back to the people and their families that built it all and actually live James 1:27. Also, serve and build Housing for Fatherless, Widow, Homeless, Poor, etc., actually living Christian and Chrlistlikeness and serving, loving people.

  4. Whatever our opinions are of the GCC church and its leadership, I don’t know why any church should not be allowed to worship indoors? I don’t mind people wearing masks or sitting farther apart in churches.

    Lots of people go shopping indoors for groceries, for Home Depot stuff, for other things. They are in there for quite a while before exiting the stores. The stores are open all day long. Yet people can’t go in a church for a little over an hour to worship God and see friends briefly?

    There are reports about T-cell antibodies discovered in people who were not exposed to the novel corona virus. There are signs of possible herd immunity. Yes, there is much research data not reported properly or widely. The church is not more risky than the normal places people go to do normal things.

    1. Farmer, I agree with you.

      The argument has been that wearing a mask is to protect others. Yet it is by no means certain that they do so. How is it protecting others to cough into a small piece of cloth all morning, fidgeting with it periodically, and then touching every door knob in the church?

      Plus not all masks are the same, and not everyone wears them properly. Sometimes in stores I’ll see someone’s mask covering their mouth but not their nose. Moreover, how do I know the guy or gal standing near me even has a clean mask? How often has it been used before being washed? We usually wash our cloth masks after each use, but I’m sure not everyone does.

      I think in part, the idea of mask wearing is psychological, as it gives us a “feeling” of protection, even though we really have no clue how much protection we’re actually getting from them. I’m not saying this to demean mask wearing, but just pointing out the reality of the situation.

      There really is no way to measure how much protection we’re getting, and there’s also no way to know how often the germs on our masks are being tranferred to door knobs, shelves, counter tops, etc. due to people fidgeting with their mask.

      1. Lots of good and not so good commentary here, mostly not good. Yet and still I see no sound reason why a high profile evangelical preacher refuses to set a good example for the people the Lord has put in his care and follow easy-chessy health protocols recommended by qualified health professionals, to,at the least, slow down and/or protect his congregation and the community at large from this terrible disease. Maybe if John Mac got the covid virus himself, he would change his tune, but perception being what it is, I doubt that he would.

      2. Daniel: “I think” and it’s “psychological”? Still offering arm-pit opinions I see. Oh well, once an arm-pit…. you know the rest.

        1. Sams: “And still I see no sound reason” and “but perception being what it is, I doubt that he would”. Gee, those sound like opinions too.

          Your tactic of criticizing anyone offering an opinion is quite shallow. Everyone who comments on this blog is offering their opinion (obviously). And you are no different than anyone else. Not sure why you can’t see that.

    2. All good points farmer. I do get the sense that there are those using fear of the virus to manipulate what people think. Whether it’s humans or the spiritual enemy.

  5. NOTE: The county said “…placing themselves and the community at large in grave risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.” The did NOT say grave risk of “health”, but merely of spreading Covid-19. Very important distinction here. The county does NOT care about people’s health, only their control over subjects!

  6. Knowing the position of Pst John MacArthur on homosexuality and his view of the Democrats, I find that a bit ironic that the Hon. Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff (1) have a husband and (2) is a Democrat…

    « Personally, Judge Beckloff can be described as spirited. When not wearing the black robe, he can be seen sporting suspenders and reports to have a large collection. For recreation, he is likely to be found in NYC at his apartment on the upper east side where he and his husband, Clay Williams, enjoy all that NYC has to offer including theatre, music in all forms and unending arts and museums. They travel frequently, including such lands as Africa and Japan just to mention a couple. The world is their oyster. »

    «Judge Mitchell Lee Beckloff received his B.A. from University of California Los Angeles in 1983 and his J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1989. After passing the California bar exam in 1989, he worked as an attorney at Pillsbury Madison and Sutro from 1989-1992, as a staff attorney for Auxillary Legal Services from 1992-1994, and then in private practice from 1994-1999, founding Groman & Beckloff. Thereafter, he served as a referee from 1998-2001 and as a commissioner from 2001 until 2007 when he was appointed to the bench by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also teaches students at Southwestern Law School and judges with the Center for Judicial Education and Research. He is a Democrat. »

  7. I think I’ll take a break from posting on Julie’s site. Reason being I have a conviction in my soul that I’ve been way too harsh in my stance on the Covid subject. Do I still believe that many commentaries here are incorrect and even removed from what is surely sound medical advice? Yes, I do. However, that doesn’t give me any right to swing a baseball bat. Please accept my apologies and forgive me. May the Lord have mercy on me and may He bless all of you.

  8. While we’re all focused on Covid there are major issues being swept under the rug regarding Michael Mahoney.

      1. Somebody knows what happened with pastor Michael Mahoney? He is a great man of God and I understand that he is out of GCC .. please info!! Praying for him and his family

      2. The media will get to the bottom of this about Mahoney since GCC is under the microscope now. Pastor MacArthur mentioned Mahoney’s banishment/dismissal from GCC while at the podium today before communion was served. Our sermons are televised and we have media in attendance during our services. Stay tuned over the next few days.

        1. Is there anywhere to see John MacArthur sharing this? If it was cut out of the live feed how can one find it?

  9. I have known Pastor Michael Mahoney since he was a missionary in Chile, and it draws my attention to see that he has been completely removed from Grace

  10. I want to encourage you all that if you are truly concerned about Michael Mahoney’s removal go and speak to your pastor or a elder at Grace. My husband and I did this and the elder was very honest and answered all our questions. We are very grateful that he was willing to help us.

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