A California church scored a big win in its battle against what its congregants believe is government overreach in the name of coronavirus prevention.
According to Red State, a judge sided with Grace Community Church in granting its request to be able to hold indoor services without size limitations — at least for now.
“Indoor services with singing and no attendance cap”
The legal victory is especially meaningful for many keeping track of the case given its jurisdiction within the largely left-leaning Los Angeles County.
Pastor John MacArthur told KTLA that a recent church service began as an outside tent meeting, but congregants began making their way inside until thousands had gathered. The incident constituted a violation of a local ordinance limiting such congregations to 100 people.
According to Thomas More Society attorney Jenna Ellis, who represented the church in its case, the decision is unequivocally good news for her clients and others with similar values.
“Judge allows indoor services with singing and no attendance cap!” she tweeted. “Church agrees to adhere to mask and social distancing until full hearing.”
Ellis described the court’s decision as the first in the state to recognize church services as essential amid a continued public health crisis.
The legal fight will continue
Local officials were hoping to prevent inside services, at least until a full hearing scheduled for Sept. 4 has been conducted. Despite Ellis’ optimism, however, the fight is not over for Grace Community Church.
While congregants will be able to gather indoors temporarily, as local temperatures are expected to reach 110 degrees, the ruling only extends until the aforementioned formal hearing.
The judge’s ruling also comes with other caveats, including a promise that the church will abide by preventative and social distancing measures.
While that will certainly mean mask mandates for those entering the building for services, it is unclear how many people the church plans to allow inside over the next few weeks.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he believes churches should be open for in-person worship. Those who agree with his position are sure to see this week’s development as a promising sign.