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MacArthur Defies Late-Night Appellate Court Ruling; Mocks Social Distancing & Wearing Masks

By Julie Roys
John MacArthur Speaks to his congregation
John MacArthur speaks to his congregation at Grace Community Church on in August 2020. (Screengrab of online video)

Despite a late Saturday night ruling by a California Appellate Court, barring John MacArthur and Grace Community Church from meeting indoors, the California megachurch met indoors on Sunday anyway. And MacArthur declared:

The good news is that you’re here. You’re not distancing, and you’re not wearing masks. And it’s also good news that you’re not outside because it’s very hot out there. So the Lord knew you needed to be inside and unmasked. So He did us that gracious favor.

MacArthur took to the podium Sunday to thunderous applause from the congregation.

Just two days earlier, the church had won what seemed like a substantial victory. Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant ruled that Grace Community Church could meet indoors, despite Los Angeles County’s restraining order against the church. However, Chalfant insisted that Grace “comply with the mandates of the Heath Orders to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.”

But late Saturday night, a California Court of Appeal issued an emergency order overruling Judge Chalfant’s earlier decision. The ruling stated that Grace Community Church could hold outdoor services, but it could not hold indoor services while the church and county’s litigation is ongoing. (In response to the county’s order to stop indoor meetings, Grace had filed suit on August 13 against the county, city, and state, and the county had promptly countersued.”)

“We’re not meeting because we want to be rebellious,” MacArthur told his congregation Sunday. “We’re meeting because our Lord has commanded us to come together and worship him.”

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MacArthur added that the church had met with officials and agreed to social distance and wear masks for “a few weeks. . . . We are not trying to be defiant. We will do what is reasonable.” 

But then MacArthur explained that officials had obtained an emergency order and stated: “They’re not willing to work with us; they just want to dumb us down. But we’re here to bring honor to the Lord.”

Los Angeles County has threatened to enforce fines of $1,000 per day and to imprison MacArthur and other church leaders.

MacArthur claims that no one in his church has contracted COVID-19.

However, deaths from coronavirus in Los Angeles County has surpassed 5,000. And in just the past two weeks, the county has had 576 new deaths from COVID-19. 



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65 Responses

  1. From what I’m reading on the sidelines here, it appears that this topic – Covid and the right to assemble – is one where no amount of data or compelling facts will persuade those on this thread to consider a different point of view.

    A few of the posters (VINNIERANTS and DANIEL) did a good job calling out that our biases affect our judgement. To be real, I’ll confess that I have a very strong bias when I encounter people who use too much scripture – particularly when they get into the really complex and academic stuff with references to Greek and Hebrew meanings. When I hear that language, I’m included to shut down. While its not productive to start a sentence with “All Christians…”, I can speak from personal experience. That experience has shown me that people who recite complicated scripture have proven to be insensitive, unempathetic, and just not nice. The banter back and forth here pretty much reinforces that belief for me. Others here have different experiences in life and have a different perspective. This isn’t to say I’m ignoring scripture, but to say I feel a loss of personal connection when the argument goes academic.
    At the top of this post, quite a few applaud John Macarthur for having courage, as he asserted his rights and protested against the government. I see it differently. For one, he changed his position and didn’t follow through with what he said. He said that he would exercise social distancing procedures and heed caution, but then did the opposite. In the boy scouts they call that a lie. That’s not telling the truth. Even if someone feels he is justified in doing so, it’s still a simple and deliberate lie. As for courage, it’s interesting that protesting against the government (the same government that protects religious freedoms like no others in the world) is seen as an act of courage. Perhaps another way to look at it is to have patience. That takes courage. And how about the rioters? In my opinion, that for sure is a messed up situation that’s unfair. Calling out the things they do wrong to promote your position isn’t courage. How about sitting down with someone who is protesting and listening to their position (especially when they seem to be unfairly angry at you), now that takes courage. How about considering the viewpoint of first responders, and now school teachers, and asking them how COVID has personally impacted their lives. I’ll bet anyone lunch here that the opinions that lean towards conspiracy theories are coming from those echoing the sentiment of like-minded friends and repeating what is heard from favored news sources. I sincerely doubt anyone with such strong options has actually spoken with a doctor or a nurse who watched many COVID patients die, or even worse had other friends in the healthcare industry die from COVID. To put it out there, I think many of the objectors here are falling inline with group think. My personal position is there is a lot we don’t know about COVID and a lot of the news that comes out each day surprises us all. Someone else said the something along the lines that it’s not the pastors responsibility to manage the environment for everyone, but to basically just preach. If you recall a few months back we had a situation in Naperville where a pastor had COVID and knowingly withheld that information from his congregation. That’s a good example of where government oversight is needed because not all churches can self-regulate.
    Lots of words here and I don’t think anyone will be persuaded to take on my point of view, I do hope we can be persuaded to be more human and engage in civilized debate.

    1. Thank you, Tony. I had refrained from commenting because of the tone of many commenting as you point out, but I will comment from the perspective of a front-line health care worker in an acute care large urban hospital.

      Seeing John MacArthur meet in person without social distancing and without masks to me indicates a lack of caring for the congregation, the community at large and health care workers. While the congregants are making their own decision to attend, what about the community in which they live? If GCC becomes the source of spread of COVID-19 to Sun Valley community, how is that caring for your neighbor? And yes, to your point, the health care system depending on where you live is STRESSED. To have a busy hospital with staff members out on quarantine or sick, leaves the remaining staff to work overtime. No one cares that health care workers are being stressed by surges, and that we are putting ourselves at risk with large numbers of COVID-19 patients. And yes, it is difficult and heart breaking to watch patients die from COVID-19.

      GCC could have still gathered outside and even if they decided to gather in doors, they could have done so with social distancing and masks.

      May kindness and consideration for others prevail in both comments about this and in our decisions how and when to gather. I wear a mask at work for sometimes 12 hours. It’s not that hard and shows my concern for others around me.

      1. Finally, finally, someone who has medical training, knowledge and expertise, FINALLY and not some unknown giving arm-pit opinions. Thanks a million AIS!!!

      2. “Seeing John MacArthur meet in person without social distancing and without masks to me indicates a lack of caring for the congregation, the community at large and health care workers. While the congregants are making their own decision to attend, what about the community in which they live?”

        Bingo. Loving your neighbors should include protecting their health. MacArthur is increasingly making it clear that he loves his own ego more than he loves his neighbors.

    2. Sams, you said:

      “Not that I can’t think for myself, but I’ll go with a recognized expert every time”

      I said: “You mention going with a “recognized expert” every time, yet I doubt you’d go along with an “expert” scientist or medical doctor who doesn’t hold your view of the necessity and usefulness of wearing masks.”

      Then you said: “I’m really amazed at what you think I would do. There again offering arm-pit opinions.”

      Sams, not only have you stated exactly what you would do in the quote I just listed, but you have stated (in a myriad of comments) the same thing over and over. You demonstrate very little nuance.

      In fact, in comment after comment on this blog post as well as several others pertaining to the Johnny Mac saga, you frequently tell others how brain dead their comments are, and how others’ opinions that don’t match your own stink like arm pits.

      To be frank, it’s your logic and your approach that stinks like arm pits.

      1. Daniel: Check out Scotties post dated Aug. 18th at 10:38AM. Applies very well to arm-pit posts, you know, mostly of what you and others of like mind have offered here. Enjoy!!

    3. i like what you have to say. I’ve been noticing anger on both sides and we’re all going to have our bias. How things have become so politicized is frustrating and annoying. I want to engage in civilized debate as well. It does take patience and courage. For example, I was talking to a family member (who has a different opinion than I do, who got frustrated and angry when I said “The virus is real but I do think people are trying to use the situation for their political advantage. And certainly, I think you can find evidence of that because this is an election year and the biases of secular, Democratic and Republican governors and leaders are coming out in their decisions. It is interesting that to me that the more Democratic/Liberal leaders tend to the rules that impose greater control and favor the “wisdom” of the government, vs more Republican/Conservative leaders who seem to favor less restrictive measures and recognizing people’s individuals freedom to discern the right decision for their situation within given guidelines.

      And by that statement there maybe might clue you into my bias.
      I tend more conservative and I’m seeing the wisdom in engaging of those with different opinions.
      And I believe God’s Word is true and inerrant, and we can trust the Holy Spirit to tell us God’s heart on anything.
      There is good in that they can meet indoors, but skipping the distancing and masks doesn’t seem like a good idea. Maybe that’s prideful on his part.

      Yet not all who tend toward “consipiracy theory” might tend toward group think. Perhaps we are of those called to be watchmen of God and see a greater trend of a fight for power and control behind a lot of these issues, which the virus is a pressure cooker for.

      Albert Mohler’s The Briefing and Breakpoint do take a look at these trends. They do take a more conservative perspective and yet the source articles are linked to so you are free to read and make your own opinion.

      If we want to have civil debate we need to understand these opinions aren’t our identity, it is not about who has more power and therefore can scream the loudest. All are made in the image of God, unique. Equality is a virtue but not the highest virtue since God has made us all unique, unique parts in a body and that already means we will have differences. Justice is higher than equality in the Bible. God chooses what is just.

      We have the hurdles of a post-truth culture, cancel culture, and people who have wounds that lead them to take their position on as their identity.

      Christ shows us the way, and He does say he will give us the words when needed.
      And patience and courage, for we’ll need that too.


  2. how is it that the pursuit of God erodes away logic, common sense, and philadelphia and replaces it with congratulatory self-centeredness and stupidity? it’s just amazing to me.

    1. They’re not pursuing love of God or neighbor. They’re pursuing their own rights, to get the same rights they think the left wing protesters got. Christians have become just one more interest group complaining about their rights. You give up your rights when you take up His cross.

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