Fools Delight in Empty Victories: Did Grace Community Church “Win” in the Recent Hearing?
In a word, “no”, but to see how the news exploded all over the Twitterverse, you’d think that a major victory for Christianity had been won and once more Truth and Liberty were held high against the evil (God-ordained, Romans 13) LA authorities. Let’s boil it down to its best bits.
August 12th-LA County sued Grace Community Church, requesting a Restraining Order on Grace Community church to cease indoor operations
August 13th-Grace Community Church filed a lawsuit in North Central District Court to challenge Newsom’s, Garcetti’s, and the LADPH’s restrictions on “places of worship”
August 14th at 8:30 am @ Stanley Mosk-Judge Chalfant denied the restraining order, but required Grace Community church to wear masks, follow social distancing guidelines, in and OUTSIDE the church
(Jenna Ellis remarked that the Judge had not read the Complaint, but the Complaint that she is so named pertains to the North Central District Court and NOT Stanley Mosk. Out-of-town lawyers and their homespun charm.)
So, let’s recap…when the first Shelter-at-Home hit Los Angeles County in March, Garcetti was asked about churches during a press conference and I remember distinctly that he said that that was something that he couldn’t really comment on. He had stated that was outside his power. In March, Grace Community Church did decide to shut its doors to services, but not its campus. When you watch the Livestreams, they would make sure to point the camera higher and higher, so you could not see the people in the sanctuary. They were afraid that Garcetti would see and shut them down.
Thinking Biblically About the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Interview with John MacArthur
PHIL: Hi, I’m Phil Johnson, and it is my great privilege to be your host each day on Grace to You. And with me in the…
In April, the Thinking Biblically regarding COVID video was released,
The other thing that we talked about with the elders was if we defy this and if we say we’re going to meet anyway, we run the risk of exposing people to this illness needlessly. And why would we want to do that? Because this is a health issue, this is a health crisis. And since like any church, many of the people in our church are older. We wouldn’t want to expose them to that. We’ve only had, as far as I know, and this was up to yesterday, we’ve only had one couple in our church in the Spanish ministry who actually got the coronavirus. But that couple, and not an older couple either, wound up in the hospital because it was such a virulent experience for them.
In March and April, there were always a few hundred people on the Patios, milling about, not listening to the sermon, but just there socializing. They’ve always piped in John’s sermons throughout the Patios and it hits people in the feels that they’re “at church” and can learn through osmosis while drinking coffee at Steeple House. No muss, no fuss Christianity.
Then on May 22, 2020, John took the words of Trump quite literally and announced that they would open come hell or high water. He mocked the use of masks and laughed, “you can wear one if you want” and that they were going to sing and worship together in the Sanctuary once more. Then, a decision from the Ninth Circuit came down and they peddled back their decision. Conveniently, that May 22, 2020 update from John MacArthur was taken down.
Ninth Circuit Court Rules Against the President and Churches
We were elated yesterday morning when President Trump declared churches to be essential, asked us to open this very…
June, came and went, then July 13th, Newsom’s “cessation of indoor operations” of places of worship (along with about a dozen other business types) mandate came through. And it seemed like the next day, the blasted tents showed up. The chairs, thousands of them and the food trucks, not of loaves and fishes, but of Ice Cream, In and Out, Chick-Fil-A.
July 24th-the Statement went out.
July 26, 2020-Church services were inside the Sanctuary, no masks, and no social distancing. Jenna Ellis arrived, Trump called. Mission Accomplished!
July 29th, 2020-Millard Barondess on behalf of Los Angeles County demanded that Grace Community Church cease indoor operations in violation of State and County guidelines (which was misrepresented by Franklin Graham and other Conservative blogs)
We’re pretty much caught up here and what have we learned:
March, April, May, June — no masks, no social distancing; Police, law enforcement attend, in fact, some members are inspectors. People enjoy the sermon, the fellowship, the free food in the sun. Practically compliant with State, though there is a City mask ordinance. Close enough.
July 13th-present: Newsom’s mandate prohibits indoor worship and Grace holds one (1) service, 10 am on July 26th, August 2, and 9th. Yet, THEY STILL HAVE Sunday 8 am, 6 pm, Grace Life on Tuesdays, and the kiddies on Wednesday night all in the tents, outside!
They went from defying the State/Ceasar with no masks or social distancing indoors and outdoors to agreeing to wear masks, social distance, and comply with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health giving them the names of attendees and any that are tested positive for COVID. Where’s the win?
In my haste to go out and get some Jones Soda, organic peaches, and chips, ice cream, I completely forgot my mask. I was just about to run in the store when I saw an elderly couple putting theirs on. I had to drive all the way back home, get my mask and…it was just a painful reminder that no matter how long you have complied with these safety precautions, they really do take some getting used to.
I’ve tried to give this as quick and honest a take as I can. Seeing as its 1 am and I’m not really at my sharpest, what I do walk away from this whole thing is a few key truths:
It’s not a church-Grace Community and its elders do not communicate to their Church. This is/was an important matter and as I read through the legal documents, it became abundantly clear that this was in defense of John MacArthur and the Grace Community Church building because Lord knows that the ekklesia was neither informed nor asked about this course of action.
It’s John’s world and we’re living in it-Every conservative blog reported the same press release or provided the same information which Phil Johnson gave them, giving everyone the impression that 1)Garcetti was going to shut the power off (when pressed, Johnson took this back and 2) That John MacArthur was going to be arrested (no, the cease and desist letter contained the penalties that existed for all businesses that refused to close amidst the order) and be fined $1,000 a day. Also not true. Grace Community Church throughout this whole “demonstration” would have you believe that they were being discriminated against, that their church alone and their fearless pastor were the only ones being threatened with fines, penalties, and “imprisonment”.
Have you TRIED to go to a mall lately? Yes, it’s closed. Get your hair done or go see a movie (Wonder Woman 84 perhaps?), oh wait, IT’S CLOSED. Tried to go to the Apple Store for that Macbook Air? Again, CLOSED. Most of California’s businesses are shuttered, so you’ll excuse me if I’m more concerned about the 4.3 million potential evictions, the civil unrest, wildfires above my house, and the unemployment that has just run out for so many of my friends and neighbors, then the media circus and rank testimony put to an unbelieving world. Ah, yes, take the win…and mask up.
For my next trick…I will demonstrate how every line of your Complaint is filled with omissions and outright lies.