Los Angeles County and the state of California have agreed to pay $800,000 in attorney's fees to John MacArthur's church after the congregation prevailed in multiple courts over the issue of COVID-19 restrictions.
Last year, MacArthur and Grace Community Church defied restrictions prohibiting indoor services, sparking a series of legal actions by both the county and the state intended to force the congregation into compliance.
The county threatened the church with thousands of dollars in fines. At one point, MacArthur faced potential arrest.
In the end, though, Grace Community Church prevailed in court, in part because the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major ruling in November siding with churches in other jurisdictions.
The county and the state each will pay $400,000 as part of the "prevailing party" attorney's fees. MacArthur, during a sermon Sunday, said all the money will go to the Thomas More Society, which represented the church.
The Thomas More Society called it a "big religious liberty win" for the church.
"Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church refused to bow to government tyranny and they finally obtained the excellent result they deserved," said Charles LiMandri, special counsel for the Thomas More Society. "Thanks to their courage and perseverance, justice prevailed, and the First Amendment was vindicated. No longer can the County of Los Angeles and the State of California treat people of faith like second-class citizens. This result is a victory for all Americans who cherish religious liberty."
Grace Community argued that it had a constitutional right to worship indoors.
"We are very grateful for our Lord's protection and providence throughout this past year. Our commitment to the Word of God and his church has never wavered," MacArthur said. "We have simply continued to stand firm, as we always have and always will. We put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of the church. Over the past year, our congregation has seen his hand of blessing in ways like never before, and the Lord's promise has been realized: 'I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.'"
Photo courtesy: ©John MacArtuhr Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.