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Los Angeles County sues megachurch for failing to follow ban on indoor gatherings

Los Angeles County sues megachurch for failing to follow ban on indoor gatherings
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Los Angeles County has sued an area megachurch after it blatantly broke the state's mandate on large social gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, after it had sued the county in an attempt to get the restrictions lifted.

The complaint against Grace Community Church was filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"The County took this action reluctantly, after working with the church for several weeks in hopes of gaining voluntary compliance with the Health Officer Orders, which allow for religious services to be held outdoors in order to slow the spread of a deadly and highly contagious virus," the municipality said in a statement.

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The church had filed its own complaint the day before.

According to a statement from the Thomas More Society, whose lawyers are representing Grace Community, the church's suit "seeks to prohibit California from enforcing its unconstitutional and onerous coronavirus pandemic regulations."

On Sunday, the church held services as usual. Pastor John MacArthur told CNN that approximately 6,000 or 7,000 people showed up

“We opened the doors because that's what we are, we're a church and we’re going to trust those people to make adult decisions about the reality of their physical and spiritual health and how that balance works for each one of them," MacArthur said. "Nobody's forcing anything, they're here because they want to be here."

Currently, places of worship in California can only have indoor services with 25 percent of their capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower. Singing and chanting have also been prohibited. California has been hit hard by the resurgence of the pandemic and now has over 600,000 confirmed cases.

Grace Community said it would no longer adhere to the state health mandates.

"When the devastating lockdown began, it was supposed to be a short-term stopgap measure, with the goal to 'flatten the curve' — meaning they wanted to slow the rate of infection to ensure that hospitals weren't overwhelmed," the church said. "But we are now more than twenty weeks into the unrelieved restrictions."

It added, "Therefore we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands. We, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services."