Los Angeles County has notified Grace Community Church that it's terminating a lease agreement for a large portion of the church's parking lot.
The land has been leased by the Sun Valley church since 1975.
Attorneys for the church say the move is in retaliation for their holding in-person worship services amid the state of California's restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the church dated Aug. 28, the county says the lease will be terminated on Oct. 1. James T. Sparks, the assistant deputy director of the Survey/Mapping & Property Management Division writes, "If Grace fails to vacate the premises as required, the District may enter the premises and remove Grace's personal property in accordance with the Agreement and applicable law, and Grace will be responsible for any resultant expenses incurred by the District. Any improvements, including fencing, that are not removed will become the property of the District at its option. Effective October 2, 2020, or thereafter, the District will secure the premises."
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Jenna Ellis, special counsel to the Thomas More Society, said such action by the county is "harassment."
"Los Angeles County is retaliating against Grace Community Church for simply exercising their constitutionally protected right to hold church and challenging an unreasonable, unlawful health order. In America, we have a judicial system to ensure that the executive branch does not abuse its power, and Grace Community Church has every right to be heard without fear of reprisal," she noted.
"The Democrats' message to Americans is clear - if you don't bow to every whim of tyranny, the government will come after you. The Church has peacefully held this lease for 45 years and the only reason the County is attempting eviction is because John MacArthur stood up to their unconstitutional power grab. This is harassment, abusive, and unconscionable," Ellis concluded.
As CBN News reported on Aug. 24, officials are attempting — for the fourth time — to get a court order to shutter Pastor John MacArthur's Grace Community Church, which has been holding in-person worship services since last month, a violation of orders from Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) who has mandated churches keep their doors closed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
MacArthur released a declaration arguing the county is attempting to impede on his and his congregation's "free exercise of religion by criminalizing activity directly required by our faith."
"As a church," he wrote, "we have a moral and religious obligation to continue allowing our congregants to gather in our sanctuary to worship the Lord."
A few weeks ago, MacArthur pointed to a double standard that has seen massive social justice protests but has continued to restrict religious gatherings. Semi-jokingly, he opened up a recent sermon by saying, "Good morning, everyone. I'm so happy to welcome you to the Grace Community Church peaceful protest."