It didn’t take long for a judge to weigh in on the legal battle between COVID-spreading Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in California and the state officials who want him to stop hurting people. Both sides had sued each other this week over the issue of MacArthur’s massive indoor church services; they violated Los Angeles County’s restrictions limiting attendance for such services to 100 people.
MacArthur claimed, without proof, that no one in the church had contracted the virus and that limiting his services violated his religious freedom.
Yesterday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant issued a temporary restraining order that basically says nothing will be decided before early September… but in the meantime, the church can continue meeting and the city can’t punish them for it — with limitations.
Everyone inside the church must wear masks. And all family clusters much social distance from each other.
The right-wing Thomas More Society, which represents MacArthur, is calling that a victory — and the virus agrees — but if those limitations are followed, it will by definition restrict attendance. It certainly can’t be 7,000 people in the building if there’s space between them; pictures from recent services showed those people packed in like sardines and without face masks.
The whole thing makes MacArthur sound like the Black Knight saying, “Tis but a scratch.”
What will attendance be like tomorrow? And what power does the county have to step in if they violate the rules? That’s not clear. But if the church can’t abide by the rules it has now agreed to, that should be an indication to the judge that these Christians can’t be trusted on matters of public health.
Until then, the rest of us have to suffer because these Christians think spreading the virus in a pandemic is an essential part of their religious practice.
(via Warren Throckmorton)