And a Little Tweet Shall Lead Them – Response to John MacArthur’s Worship Service

I thought about writing a post about John MacArthur’s decision to defy Governor Newsom’s restrictions of church gatherings. I planned to argue that his decision places his congregation and community in jeopardy. I also find fault with his Christian nationalist rationale for violating a legitimate public health edict. However, sometimes a tweet does this trick. Take this one from Hunter Crowder:

The state of California has a compelling interest in limiting the spread of COVID-19. California now has overtaken New York in the number of cases in the U.S.  Indoor church activities make spread easier for the virus and it is easy to understand why the governor wants to limit indoor crowd size.

The Supreme Court twice has let stand rulings that allowed states to restrict religious services and they may do it again. MacArthur may be using this for attention, I don’t know. However, given the situation before us, Hunter has as good a theory as anyone.

Additional information:

I have been tracking churches as a source of spread of COVID-19. You can see that post here.

For more on the COVID-19 outbreak at Allaso Ranch, click here.

12 thoughts on “And a Little Tweet Shall Lead Them – Response to John MacArthur’s Worship Service”

  1. He’s also referred to the virus as “the flu” for the duration of this pandemic in his sermons. Pretty irresponsible.

  2. So, John MacArthur can’t live without the adulation of his congregation, and is willing to risk the lives of the people he “serves” to get it? His ego is right up there with Donald Trump’s, though he might be smarter. Not smart enough to want to keep his congregation from getting sick, though.

  3. MacArthur always seems to need attention. When he doesn’t get what he wants (like accreditation for his school, his son out of trouble fro questionable financial dealings, etc). he tries a diversion. This is quite a diversion, but it definitely feeds the “govmint is agin us” crowd.
    My current church, in California, has a pastor who trained at Master’s, and I get nervous every time MacArthur does a tweet that he is going to “open.” But, I need to give our pastor a lot of credit. We’ll have our first congregational meetings since March outside in our parking lot beginning in August. They will still live stream, and it’s being done following all the county guidelines.

  4. It’s worth clarifying two things. First, SCOTUS has not ruled against churches in regards to COVID-19 restrictions. In both May’s South Bay v. Newsom case and last week’s Calvary Chapel v Sisolak, SCOTUS declined to grant injunctive relief, i.e. declined to intervene in lower court rulings. The Supreme Court has not weighed in, and each restriction and case is going to have to be taken on an individual basis anyways. Second, whether or not MacArthur gets it right on the dangers of COVID-19 and the responsibility of the church’s leadership is somewhat beside the point here. The question theologically is whether the government has the right to suspend worship. That’s a separate question from whether the church’s leadership should suspend worship or organize it differently. Obviously the congregation at Grace Community thinks that government’s restrictions are ill-advised and the threat overblown, and if that’s what you think, and you also believe that the government does not have the authority to suspend worship, of course you’re going to respond positively (no pun intended) to your church leadership deciding to continue worship.

    1. Cameron – Thanks for the first clarification. I altered my wording accordingly. On the second, I do think the govt has the right to temporarily alter or suspend public church services when the reason is not to stifle the teaching. It is clear as can be that there is no effort to stop anyone from preaching the gospel.

      1. Also, a number of SCOTUS cases and opinions give local and state health authorities wide latitude in powers:

        In the landmark 1824 case Gibbons v. Ogden, striking down a New York law regulating steamboats, Chief Justice John Marshall described laws “most advantageously exercised by the States themselves “ include “inspection laws, quarantine laws, health laws of every description.”

        Compagnie Francaise de Navigation a Vapeur v. Louisiana Board of Health, 186 U.S. 380 (1902)

        Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)

  5. The theology in his statement was atrocious.

    We can’t social distance because we’re ordered to “greet one another with a holy kiss”? Seriously? Let’s see some photos of your church practicing this – is John MacArthur really puckering up to dudes in your congregation? If so, finding a few photos of that shouldn’t be hard at all. ?

    We believe in obeying the government when it doesn’t conflict with Biblical commands, yet not a single mask in sight in that photo? Riiiiiiiight…

  6. Isn’t MacArthur the guy who claimed he stood in the room where MLK was killed a day after it happened?

      1. In that case I agree with HunterCrowder that MacArthur just wants people to worship him rather than just trying to keep the donations coming.

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