By Joel Looper
The internationally-known evangelical and Calvinist pastor John MacArthur announced on Friday, May 22, that his church, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, would be reopening. In a press conference the same day, President Trump had called churches “essential” and said he would “override” governors who defy him, so Grace Community Church said it would open on the basis of Trump’s allowance.
Then on Sunday MacArthur’s message was taken down, and an angry and disappointed report went up after a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision upheld Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on in-person services, a ban instituted to stem the spread of coronavirus. Some assumed MacArthur’s initial justification for reopening was “rhetorical sleight of hand.” Surely he or someone at Grace knew that the president does not have the authority to enforce such a declaration. Only state governors have that power.
One can speculate about MacArthur’s motives, but his church was not to be among the thousand-plus California churches whose pastors, despite the ruling, vowed to reopen next week for Pentecost Sunday, a move which may have forced Newsom to back down and allow houses of worship to open at 25 percent capacity.
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