Police Chief Tells California Pastor: We’re Not Going to Shut You Down
Pastor John MacArthur, the head of California’s Grace Community Church, told the “Todd Starnes Show” on Tuesday that the state’s court of appeal that upheld a ban on indoor services last week was “really a win for us” because the turnout on Sunday was overwhelming and they felt no obligation to abide by Los Angeles County’s orders.
MacArthur said he received an internal memorandum from the LAPD reassuring him that officers would not be showing up to enforce any health department mandates.
“Any decision that you make with regard to sanctions on any church, don’t call us – we will not be involved,” the pastor said as he read the memo.
“The chief of police told me there is no scenario where the police will shut down Grace Church,” he told Starnes.
“We did what we’ve always done,” he said. He said the church opened its gym, its family center, the chapel, a tent, outdoor seating and its 3,000-person worship center in order to accommodate the surging crowd intent on worshiping in Sun Valley last weekend.
He said the church was going to try to abide by county orders, but “we didn’t have to do that.”
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He said that he obtained an internal memo in the Los Angeles Police Department that told the county not to alert the department to these kinds of complaints because police will not get involved.
The California Court of Appeal issued a late-night ruling Saturday that upheld a ban on churches holding indoor services. The ruling sets aside a lower court’s decision on Friday that would have allowed indoor services.
MacArthur said the church has been engaging in dialog with the county for weeks and even accepted strict mandates during the services in order to assure the health of its congregants.
“But that was not enough for the county,” he said. “So they immediately pulled together a kangaroo court—it reminded me of the Sanhedrin’s meeting in the middle of the night to decide the crucifixion of Jesus. So in a very hurried-up kind of meeting, the health department, the county went before them and they overturned the decision of the judge.”
MacArthur said the service was even more special than usual because it was the first time that children returned for Sunday school in six months, which he called a “critical loss in the lives of those little ones.”
“I think the Lord knew that it would have been restrictive if we had tried to conform, although we were willing to do that, it was as if the lord overruled and allowed the appellate court to remove all the restraints.”
Todd Starnes, the host of the program, said California is waging a war on Christians. He pointed out that MacArthur said in his sermon that the issue is even greater than a constitutional matter, rather it was a biblical mandate.
But he said the constitution already affords citizens the right to meet and worship and said there is no law being violated, he said those in the wrong are the ones trying to disregard the constitution and keep worshipers out of church under arbitrary shutdown orders.
“If the constitution didn’t allow us to meet, the Bible would still command us to meet, MacArthur said.