For months now, Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in California has been telling his congregation not to take the virus seriously. He’s openly celebrated the lack of social distancing and face masks in his congregation, once telling a packed house, “the good news is you’re here, you’re not distancing, and you’re not wearing masks.” In August, he falsely claimed, “There is no pandemic.” And he continues to defy local regulations about indoor gatherings.
But it turns out that, for his staff, MacArthur is taking the virus extremely seriously — to the point where he’s forcing them to sign contracts promising not to sue him or the church if they catch COVID.
I acknowledge that participation in Activities, use of the Church and any services provided by the Church subjects me to the following risks, among others: accidents which cannot be foreseen and personal injury, including but not limited to death or sickness from contracting the Coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID‑19”), the infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
I understand and acknowledge that:
A. The above list of risks is not inclusive of all the possible risks to which I will be subject in participating in Activities and using the Church and that the list in no way limits the extent or reach of this Waiver of Liability and Covenant Not to Sue (this “Agreement”) or any provision of this Agreement.
B. There is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any place where people are present.
C. While wearing a mask covering the mouth and nose while in the Church is not required, I assume additional risks of possible injury and death by not wearing a mask. I understand that I may request a mask from the Church and the Church will provide one for my use. I have been encouraged to use a mask at all times when engaging in Activities at the Church. I understand that masks may reduce or mitigate the above risks, but are in no way a guarantee of safety. I further recognize that masks have limited capability as far as prevention of infection from contracting COVID-19.
So if I have MacArthur’s position correct, there is no pandemic, social distancing is for suckers, masks are useless… and also if you work for him and happen to die from COVID you’re not allowed to blame him for it.
There’s Christian hypocrisy, and then there’s John MacArthur-style hypocrisy.
If you need people to sign this waiver, then you shouldn’t be holding in-person church services. MacArthur is willing to sacrifice the lives of his church’s most dedicated followers so he can pretend to be a Christian martyr for his national audience. As of this writing, a hearing on a civil contempt case against MacArthur has been pushed back to November.
Throckmorton, who’s not a lawyer, points out that MacArthur’s own words in church downplaying the seriousness of the virus could potentially nullify the contract if it ever came up in court. I don’t know if that’s true, but I hope it is.
It’s sad that I care more about the health of the church’s volunteers than he does.