Pastor John MacArthur of the Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California held an indoor service despite public health orders regarding coronavirus. As CNN reports, the megachurch is located in suburban Los Angeles, and reopened its doors in late July after initially closing in mid-March due to the pandemic.
As per the state of California's current coronavirus-related restrictions, any place of worship in Los Angeles can only have indoor gatherings of 100 people or 25 percent of the respective building's capacity. In an interview with CNN, MacArthur said that more and more people have returned to church since they reopened, with as many as "six or seven thousand" attending his most recent service. In photos and videos of the church, the indoor services appear to be tightly packed with little to no social distancing involved. Additionally, there's only a handful of people who can be seen wearing face coverings.
"We open the doors because that's what we are," explained MacArthur. "We're a church, and we're going to trust those people to make adult decisions about the reality of their physical and spiritual health." On July 29, attorneys for the Los Angeles County sent a cease and desist letter to the church, threatening to arrest those responsible for opening the church and warning of a potential daily fine of $1,000. On Thursday, the church's lawyers filed a lawsuit to challenge California's indoor services restrictions.
Amid the services, and MacArthur's insistence on keeping the church open, Los Angeles County is reporting somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 new coronavirus cases a day.