Mega-Church Pastor John MacArthur Accepts Millions in Government Aid, But Won’t Follow Government Safety Rules for COVID-19
Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles announced on the church website on July 24 that churches must stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic because God commands it.
MacArthur cited numerous verses in the Bible that say nothing about deadly pandemics or plagues in churches. He also claimed the civil government has no authority over the church, which never appears in the Bible either.
MacArthur, whose church accepted between $1-$2 million in federal government PPP payments, ranted against state government rules regarding church gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Therefore we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.
Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services...
The Friendly Atheist correctly notes that churches have always been under civil government authority, just as other structures are:
Churches already obey fire codes when it comes to having exit signs, being built with certain materials, and making sure attendance doesn’t exceed a certain capacity…
More importantly, his refusal to obey sensible policy regarding COVID has the effect of hurting other people. A church doesn’t have any right to put the public in danger due to their sincerely held beliefs. That’s what MacArthur wants to do, though.
Later in his rant, MacArthur bragged about the church following COVID-19 safety rules in the past, even though coronavirus cases are currently skyrocketing in California:
[W]e voluntarily followed the initial recommendations of our government. It is, of course, legitimate for Christians to abstain from the assembly of saints temporarily in the face of illness or an imminent threat to public health.