For weeks now, California megachurch leader John MacArthur has been holding massive in-person services at his Grace Community Church, rejecting a lot of sensible advice on how to prevent the spread of COVID. This is the same guy who said last month that compliance with the law “would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.”
It got even worse when MacArthur condemned pastors who weren’t spreading COVID around. He said “they don’t know what a church is, and they don’t shepherd their people.” (Well, not toward death, anyway.)
Now the battle has intensified.
Late last month, Los Angeles County said that all indoor gatherings had to be limited to 100 people or 25% of a building’s capacity, whichever is lower. For MacArthur, that would have meant only 100 people per service.
County officials told him he could hold larger services outdoors… but MacArthur refused. He wanted people in danger, goddammit.
CNN’s Daniel Burke writes:
On Thursday, the church’s lawyers announced they had filed suit on behalf of the church challenging California’s restrictions on indoor services.
Later on Thursday, Los Angeles County sued MacArthur and his church for continuing to “hold in-person, indoor worship in violation of the State and County public health orders.”
The county said in a statement that it “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.”
MacArthur says he’s doing nothing wrong, that any restrictions violate his religious freedom, and that no one in his church has contracted the virus. Then again, it’s not like anyone can verify that. Given how few of the people appear to be wearing masks or social distancing in photographs, it’s hard to believe everyone there has avoided a virus that has wreaked havoc everywhere else.
But we shouldn’t have to wait for his church members to suffer to recognize how irresponsible MacArthur is. Apparently, he cares less about their physical health than the government. And why wouldn’t he? By packing thousands of people in the building, it’s much easier to take in the sort of cash that gives his ministry more than $20 million a year.
Remember that this is a church that received between $1-$2 million in PPP loans back in June. So they had no problem taking taxpayer money to pay staff when they couldn’t meet in person, but now they’re defying the government’s sensible request to NOT HURT PEOPLE all because some Christian fanatics are so deluded they believe God can destroy a virus.
160,000 people (and counting), including many devout Christians, would say otherwise.