With a Sun Valley church demanding more information about the basis for county health orders barring indoor worship services, a judge Thursday put off a decision on whether the church should face sanctions for holding large indoor services in spite of the restriction.

However, Jenna Ellis, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, which is representing the Sun Valley house of worship, said Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff found that there is no court order prohibiting Pastor John MacArthur and the church from holding indoor worship services.

“We are pleased with the outcome today,” Ellis said. “Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff correctly found there is no court order prohibiting Grace Community Church from holding indoor services.”

Ellis said the county “continues to harass and target Pastor MacArthur. Having failed to get a court order to shut down the church they have sought three times, they’re going to try again by hauling us back into court.”

Attorneys for the county asked a judge to impose sanctions against the church, saying it was in clear violation of health orders banning indoor church services in an effort to prevent spread of COVID-19.

“Many faith organizations have willingly moved their services outdoors, which is permitted as long as public health guidelines are followed,” according to a statement from the county. “Unfortunately, Grace Community Church has continued to hold large, indoor services that dramatically increase the potential for COVID-19 transmission. Los Angeles County reluctantly, and as a last resort, has turned to the courts to obtain compliance because, unfortunately, indoor services at the church have continued.”

On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant rejected almost all of Los Angeles County’s reasons for requesting a temporary restraining order against the church. He agreed that it is the county’s burden to show “why they should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion.”

Chalfant ruled that the Sun Valley megachurch could hold indoor services if attendees wear masks and stay at least six feet apart. The county, however, appealed the ruling, and an appellate court on Saturday ruled in favor of the county.

The church went ahead with indoor Sunday services anyway.

In court Thursday, county attorneys asked that the church be sanctioned as much as $20,000 for violating the county health order. Attorneys for the church, however, demanded more information about the basis for the county’s regulations.

“They have no basis to distinguish between churches … versus other establishments,” attorney Paul Jonna told KNX Newsradio following the hearing. “They have no evidence supporting the notion that there’s somehow higher-risk activities at churches.”

With the church seeking such evidence, another hearing on the matter was scheduled for Friday morning.

County health regulations currently prohibit many indoor gatherings, including requiring restaurants to provide only outdoor food service. Health officials have repeatedly said that large indoor gatherings can become breeding grounds for COVID-19 — and some activities in worship services, such as singing, chanting or shaking hands can increase the risk.

“Meanwhile, the county continues to extend its hand to Grace Community Church with a standing offer to share educational awareness and practical guidance for conducting services outdoors in ways that prioritize the health of their congregation as well as the broader community,” according to the county.

MacArthur and Grace Community Church have filed their own case against the county and state in Burbank Superior Court, alleging health officials are attempting to shut down their indoor worship under COVID-related orders that violate the state’s constitution.

The lawsuit was filed after MacArthur received a cease-and-desist letter from the county prohibiting services inside the building and allegedly threatening the pastor with fines and imprisonment should the church continue to allow indoor worshiping.

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