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Judge Rules No Court Order Prohibits Indoor Worship, Attorneys Say; LA County Asks To Sanction Grace Community Church Up To $20,000

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that there is no court order in place that prohibits a San Fernando Valley megachurch from holding indoor worship services, attorneys said Thursday.

Jenna Ellis, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, which is representing pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, said Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff "correctly found there is no court order prohibiting Grace Community Church from holding indoor services."

"We are pleased with the outcome today," said Ellis, who 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.''

However, the judge also put off a decision on whether the non-denominational, evangelical megachurch should face sanctions for holding large indoor services in spite of the county's guidelines.

Attorneys for the county asked a judge to impose sanctions of up to $20,000 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.''

In response, attorneys for Grace requested more information about the basis for the
county's regulations.

Another hearing on the matter was scheduled for Friday morning.

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