A Los Angeles County church says it is being evicted from land that has been used as a parking lot for 45 years, in what the church’s lawyers say is retaliation for its decision to hold indoor worship services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., which is about 20 miles north of Los Angeles, said it received a letter from the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works on Friday, informing them that they are being evicted from a parcel of land the church has used continuously since 1975.
If the church fails to vacate the premise by Oct. 1, the letter says, the district may enter the premises and remove Grace’s personal property, and Grace will be responsible for any district expenses.
Grace Community Church has been holding in-person worship services in violation of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders that churches suspend indoor services during the pandemic, the Christian Post reported.
Jenna Ellis, special counsel to Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based conservative law firm, believes that the eviction is a retaliatory measure against the church for violating the governor’s orders.
“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,” Ellis said.
The church’s pastor, John MacArthur, released a declaration last week arguing that the county is impeding on his congregation’s “free exercise of religion by criminalizing activity directly required by our faith.”
A hearing on a lawsuit filed by the church against Los Angeles County and a countersuit by the Los Angeles county against the church is scheduled to begin Friday.