Attorneys for Los Angeles County are recommending a judge modify terms of a preliminary injunction he issued last summer against a Sun Valley church that flouted coronavirus health mandates so that the terms reflect recent new health guidelines.
The preliminary injunction was issued last Sept. 10 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff as a way of stemming the spread of the coronavirus, based in part on evidence presented by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that Grace Community Church was holding indoor Sunday services, prompting the county to sue the church on Aug. 14.
The county then sought contempt proceedings against the Roscoe Boulevard church and its pastor, John MacArthur, for continuing to hold indoor services and for not enforcing masking and social distancing in violation of Beckloff’s injunction.
“Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur are currently subject to a preliminary injunction more restrictive than the current law,” the county attorneys state in their court papers. “Accordingly, the court should modify the preliminary injunction to align with the existing law applicable to (the church’s) operations.”
In connection with the new county health requirements for mask wearing that became effective June 15, businesses and other gathering places are given three options. They must either require people to continue to require masks, post signs indicating that unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks while fully-vaccinated people are not, or implement a proactive vaccination verification process to determine whether individuals entering should wear masks, according to the county attorneys’ court papers.
“At this point, the only relevant restriction still applicable to (Grace Community Church) is that they must elect one of the three options regarding mask-wearing,” the county lawyers state in their court papers. “The preliminary injunction should be modified accordingly.”
Another hearing in the case is scheduled for July 30.
Grace Community Church attorneys cite two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in their motion to lift the preliminary injunction in its entirety and end the county’s effort contempt effort. In one, a Catholic diocese and a group of Jewish synagogues challenged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on churches and won, the church attorneys argue in their court papers.
Then, on Feb. 5, the high court struck down the indoor worship ban while allowing caps on attendance and a ban on singing, according to the church’s attorneys.