L.A. County Applies for Contempt Order and Sanctions Against Grace Community Church and John MacArthur

Yesterday, LA County asked the Superior Court of California to hold Grace Community Church and John MacArthur in contempt of court for violating the August 14 modified temporary restraining order of Judge Chalfant and then the Court of Appeals ruling on August 15th by having services on August 16th and by refusing to allow County health officials access to the church.

Read the LA County application to hold Grace Community Church in contempt

LA County’s Health Order prohibits indoor worship services as one means of stopping the spread of COVID-19. John MacArthur and Grace Community Church believes the order infringes on their rights to gather and worship. Consequently, they have met for indoor worship in violation of the Health Order. On August 14, in response to a request from LA County for a restraining order to halt indoor worship, County Judge James Chalfant denied in part and granted in part the order by allowing Grace Community to meet if they wore masks and physically distanced. LA County then went to the Court of Appeal to ask for that court to set aside the lower court order which it did. At that point, Grace Community disobeyed the Health Order and did not wear masks or physical distance in the Sunday service. Now, the County wants the church and MacArthur held in contempt with sanctions applied.

The County requested a citation of contempt which could lead to a $1,000 fine and up to five days in jail and sanctions which, if imposed, could amount to $1,500 per violation. Depending on how many violations are determined by the court, the fines could be substantial.

In response, the church is not backing down. A press release issued this evening stated: “Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church…are the targets of a County of Los Angeles request to be held in contempt of court. Thomas More Society attorneys are representing the internationally followed preacher and his church and defending their religious freedoms against the county‚Äôs unconstitutional violation of the right to worship together.”

Thomas More/MacArthur suit against California

37 thoughts on “L.A. County Applies for Contempt Order and Sanctions Against Grace Community Church and John MacArthur”

  1. It will be nice to see MacArthur do the perp walk. The beauty about contempt of court is that you have keys to get yourself out of jail but doing what the court requires. If you refuse, the courts are all too happy to let you sit there as long as you want to stew in there. I say they issue a $1,500 fine for every person there on Sunday. That easily could be 500K right there.

    1. I’ve seen this movie before. MacArthur will tell the judge how truly sorry he is, and this time he really understands, so let him out and he’ll be good. And then he’ll do exactly what he did before.

      Rinse and repeat.

      Or, he could go the martyr route. Then what you’re talking about would kick in. How likely do you think it is that he’ll sit in jail? (I am agnostic, literally, on this one.)

      1. I don’t think so. That video clip of MacArthur deliberately mocking the court order isn’t likely to sit well with the judge.

        1. One would hope. But the judge was a mush to begin with: He should have granted the TRO without watering it down.

          I’ve seen judges give defendants “the benefit of the doubt” over and over again, and get burned over and over again. Seriously. Then again, I’ve seen judges drop the hammer for literal, though trivial, violations of an order, so we’ll see.

          (There’s a judge who ordered the Trump folk to produce evidence of voter fraud within a day recently. The Trump people didn’t, but I can’t see that anything has happened over it yet. Where’s Kris Kobach when you need him?)

          1. what MacArthur was deliberately mocking was exactly what the Judge told him he needed to do. The modified TRO was “you can have service indoors, provided you wear masks and socially distance.”

          2. Courtroom Etiquette 101:

            Do not piss off a judge. I fully expect both the trial and appeals court judges to react accordingly since MacArthur was openly defying and mocking them and the order. I would not be surprised if either or both judges issues a bench warrant to pick up MacArthur for criminal contempt.

    2. MacArthur would love the attention, and bask in the howl of “anti-Christian persecution.”
      Martyrbator…

  2. A contempt citation and fines–including a short jail sentence–sound perfectly reasonable to me. He is defying the court and endangering his congregation. If you can’t do the time, Johny, don’t do the crime. You can worship your god just as well from the church parking lot or on-line, like a lot of other churches, until the pandemic is under control.

    1. The only god MacArthur is worshipping is himself. MacArthur’s Alpha and Omega is a self-serving navel-gazing octogenarian White Nationalist Evangelical Patriarch. I’m thankful to Dr. Throckmorton for helping to expose such blatantly idolatrous theology.

  3. I don’t share his scriptural view of worship, but I can see how he makes the case, while ignoring 1st Peter. That said, there’s mounting evidence that shutdowns have done, and will do, nothing to slow the spread of Covid. But that’s okay, because it was never about “science”. It was, and continues to be, about throttling the economy, and everyday life, just enough to keep Trump from being re-elected and gaining more power for the utterly corrupt democratic party….

        1. Mises is a libertarian think tank whose biases may not allow them to look objectively at this problem. If you have many more articles supporting your assertions, one from a more credible source might help.

          1. FWIW, I tend to be more libertarian in my outlook and political viewpoints, but I am also aware that during health emergencies states are given tremendous leeway to deal with them in line with Federalism and SCOTUS rulings. That’s why any federal mandate for wearing (or not wearing) masks, etc. does not wash nor pass Constitutional muster.

          2. There are many articles about the matter and informed people already know about them. But these are numbers. The website or source doesn’t really matter that much. Read the article and argue the math. My point is not that lockdowns don’t. They might. The point is that there is strong evidence that points the other way.

    1. *If* Trump had listened to, and acted on, the warnings he was given in January/February, we would likely be coming out of this now, like the other nations who did actually clamp down – and his show of leadership might actually have guaranteed him re election. As it is, his screwups will likely cost him the election. But like you, he’ll blame everyone but himself.

      1. @Eeyore – I don’t find that to be a factual statement. He locked down travel from China was attacked for being a Xenophobe. Nancy Pelosi, et.al. encourage walking into China Town because there was no threat from the virus. No one understood the outcomes of this virus (20/20 vision in hindsight). The point of that statement to show that others weren’t understanding the situation. That is no statement against the Chinese. I am convinced that it is the governors of the states responsibility, not the federal government to determine what is best for each state since states are different. And even in each state their are differences in population density. Restrictions in a portion of the state where the density is sparse because it is agricultural, for instance, versus a major city where people are stacked on top of each other should have different approaches to mitigating virus spread. I think President Trump certainly has done some things poorly, but I don’t believe this is one of them. This is on the governors and mayors. Coumo handled it terribly. Other governors have done well to attempt to balance economy and the virus. Don’t forget, according to the CDC, your change of dying from Covid-19 is 0.04%.

        1. I have zero recollection of anyone saying the China travel ban was xenophobic. I *do* recall many people saying that it was a grossly inadequate response (only banning travel to one nation when it was already established that the virus was spreading outside China). And simply tossing the bulk of responsibility onto state and local governments was criminally negligent. A pandemic requires a coordinated national response, in funding, managing supplies of critical resources, a consistent and expert-guided message to the public, ad infinitum. Viruses don’t respect state boundaries, and ease of travel (and our networked economy) means that no area is that much “safer” than another.

          Also, that 0.04% number is a misleading aggregate. Risk of debilitating illness (and death) increases with age, and even many younger victims are sick months afterwards. COVID is not, repeat *not*, just another flu.

        2. “Don’t forget, according to the CDC, your change of dying from Covid-19 is 0.04%”

          No, you, nor the CDC, know what Eeyore’s chance of dying from Covid-19 is. You have no idea whether or not Eeyore has any of a long list of medical conditions that could make the chances of dying MUCH higher than 0.04%. Further, dying isn’t the only bad outcome that can happen from contracting the virus.

          Trump wasn’t attacked for being a xenophobe simply because of his banning all but essential travel from china. That was simply 1 thing in a long list of xenophobic things Trump has done. Further, Trump’s behaviour wrt to the spread of covid-19 strongly indicate that the travel ban had little to do with stopping the spread and more to do with trying to hurt china.

          1. Considering that travel restrictions from China was only implemented 31 JAN and went to effect 02 FEB, it was middle of the pack in terms of implementation date. There were several countries that implemented restrictions before the US. Also, it was not a ban as there were a good 11 or more exemptions, so it was about as effective as a screen door on a submarine. Also, these restrictions with exceptions served to accelerate people coming back to the US, many of whom no doubt were already asymptomatic carriers. Finally, patients zero for RI and NY were people coming from Italy (in which the US imposed restrictions somewhat belatedly as well).

            But then I fully expect donjonesmd to either be unaware of or conveniently ignore these facts. And I fully expect the Trump and his Kool-Aid drinkers to continue to brag about this so-called travel ban.

          2. Considering that travel restrictions from China was only implemented 31 JAN and went to effect 02 FEB, it was middle of the pack in terms of implementation date. There were several countries that implemented restrictions before the US. Also, it was not a ban as there were a good 11 or more exemptions, so it was about as effective as a screen door on a submarine. Also, these restrictions with exceptions served to accelerate people coming back to the US, many of whom no doubt were already asymptomatic carriers. Finally, patients zero for RI and NY were people coming from Italy (in which the US imposed restrictions somewhat belatedly as well).

            But then I fully expect donjonesmd to either be unaware of or conveniently ignore these facts. And I fully expect the Trump and his Kool-Aid drinkers to continue to brag about this so-called travel ban.

  4. I hope the Judge sentences MacArthur (and the rest of the church leadership) to time in jail, such that it includes a sunday.

    1. that would just further embolden them in the “persecution” narrative :. – he’d think himself a real apostle at that point

      1. Probably, but I suspect MacArthur won’t be able to resists comparing himself to MLK jr. and I don’t think that will go over as well with the public as it will in MacArthur’s head.

        1. He’s already shown a tendency to tie himself to MLK’s history to make himself look good…

          1. Exactly, but in the current climate of “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation”, doing that is NOT going to make him look good.

          2. Exactly, but in the current climate of “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation”, doing that is NOT going to make him look good.

    2. that would just further embolden them in the “persecution” narrative :. – he’d think himself a real apostle at that point

        1. MacArthur is right in that church is essential for followers of Jesus. I’m having difficulty understanding his public statement of “no masks, and no social distancing.” I don’t find that helpful statement (seems like “poking the bear”). It is interesting to watch what has/is taking place in Sweden without lock-downs. Obviously, the story is still being written on this. They didn’t do the lock-down. According to the CDC, if you don’t want to get the virus from someone who attended church, then wear your mask, stay 6 feet away and wash your hands. I do think it is a good procedure to have masks in church (the argument about them continues), and use every other row. The chance of dying from Covid-19 according to the CDC is 0.04%.

          1. “MacArthur is right in that church is essential for followers of Jesus.”

            In what way is physically being in the church “essential” to being a “follower of Jesus”?

  5. President Trump will probably be hailing John MacArthur pretty soon. Giving him a thumbs up high five. But this thing will not play out well for John MacArthur in this as the court in California will eventually prevail.

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