The County of Los Angeles is terminating a lease agreement for a large portion of Grace Community Church’s parking lot that has been in place since 1975.
A letter terminating the church’s lease was issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works on August 28 – just three days after a California Superior Court judge denied the county’s fourth attempt to obtain a temporary restraining order against the congregation and its pastor, John MacArthur.
Grace Church has been given 30 days to vacate the property they have been using for nearly five decades.
“Los Angeles County is retaliating against Grace Community Church for simply exercising their constitutionally protected right to hold church and challenging an unreasonable, unlawful health order,” stated Jenna Ellis, Special Counsel to Thomas More Society and one of the attorneys representing MacArthur and Grace Church.
“In America, we have a judicial system to ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its power, and Grace Community Church has every right to be heard without fear of reprisal,” she continued in a press release.
“The church has peacefully held this lease for 45 years and the only reason the county is attempting eviction is because John MacArthur stood up to their unconstitutional power grab. This is harassment, abusive, and unconscionable.”
The county has attempted multiple times to shut down services at Grace Church and on August 25, California Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff issued a five-page opinion denying Los Angeles County’s fourth attempt to obtain a temporary restraining order against MacArthur and the congregation.
In a very well-reasoned analysis of the prior proceedings, the court held that the county’s attempt to obtain a restraining order did not meet statutory requirements and that the Court of Appeal’s order did not justify a new temporary restraining order; rather, it simply stayed Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant’s August 14 order and gave the county permission to enforce its own health order.
Regarding the decision, MacArthur said in a statement, “We are very grateful to Judge Beckloff for his reasoned opinion and for taking great care to review this very important matter. As I said in my declaration to the court, we see this action against us as an illegitimate misuse of power. It should shock the conscience of every Christian that churches are coming under assault from our own government simply for holding church. Church is essential.”
The next hearing in the case is scheduled to take place on September 4 in Los Angeles Superior Court.