LOS ANGELES, California, September 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A lawyer for a California Christian megachurch is calling out Los Angeles County for terminating a 45-year-old parking lot lease, saying the county’s deed is an act of “retaliation” for the church fighting to win the right to worship after challenging “unreasonable” state coronavirus health orders.
“Los Angeles County is retaliating against Grace Community Church for simply exercising their constitutionally protected right to hold church and challenging an unreasonable, unlawful health order,” said Jenna Ellis, special counsel to the Thomas More Society, who represents Grace Community Church as legal counsel in a statement sent to LifeSiteNews.
“In America, we have a judicial system to ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its power, and Grace Community Church has every right to be heard without fear of reprisal. The Democrats’ message to Americans is clear — if you don’t bow to every whim of tyranny, the government will come after you.”
Grace Community Church has held a lease from the county on a section of their parking lot since 1975. A letter dated August 28 from the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works gives them a total of 30 days to “vacate” the area by October 1.
“If Grace fails to vacate the premise as required, the District may enter the premises and remove Grace's personal property in accordance with the Agreement and applicable law, and Grace will be responsible for any resultant expenses incurred by the District,” reads the lease termination notice letter from the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works.
“The Church has peacefully held this lease for 45 years and the only reason the County is attempting eviction is because John MacArthur stood up to their unconstitutional power grab,” said Ellis in a message sent to LifeSiteNews. “This is harassment, abusive, and unconscionable.”
Grace Community Church won the right to worship indoors after a weeks-long battle in the California Superior Court with the County of Los Angeles.
In July, the megachurch headed by Pastor John MacArthur defied California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban of indoor religious services, imposed ostensibly to fight the coronavirus.
Newsom’s ban affected a total of 29 counties, which is around 80 percent of the state of California.
Grace Community Church sued the state over the “unconstitutional and onerous coronavirus” health orders. Los Angeles County counter-sued.
After a legal battle back and forth, Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff ruled that Los Angeles County could no longer try to stop the megachurch from holding indoor worship services.
In the past, Lost Angeles County officials have threatened the megachurch with fines of up to $20,000 against the church should it hold indoor services.
Numerous churches have defied Newsom’s order banning indoor worship, such as Grace Community Church, Cornerstone Church of Fresno, Destiny Christian Church of Rocklin, and Harvest Rock Church of Pasadena. A recent video report by LifeSiteNews’s Jim Hale goes over how a Christian church in southern California defied Newsom’s orders and continued to operate indoor services.