Church says LA County plans to close parking lot in retaliation for indoor services

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Grace Community Curch in Sun Valley, Calif. (Google Maps)
Separation of church and state is not being maintained in Los Angeles County, Calif.: The state is trying to control the church’s actions and is now taking away its 45-year parking area.  

Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, about 20 miles north of Los Angeles, claims it is being evicted from land its congregants have used for parking for nearly half a century. The church’s lawyers say the eviction is retaliation for its determination to hold indoor services during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The church says it received a letter from the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works on Aug. 28 informing them that they can no longer use a parcel of land the church has used continuously since 1975. If the church keeps using the premises through Oct. 1, the letter goes on, the district may enter the site and remove church property, and Grace will have to pay any expenses.  

The church has been holding in-person worship services in defiance of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders that churches halt all indoor services during the pandemic, according to the Christian Post.  

Jenna Ellis, special counsel to Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based conservative law firm, said the eviction looks like a retaliatory measure against the church for going against 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, published a declaration recently arguing that the county is impinging on his congregation’s “free exercise of religion by criminalizing activity directly required by our faith.”  

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