If you thought the government (particularly in California) is above retaliating on it’s citizens – even when those citizens are law-abiding, then think again. This past week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works terminated an agreement with Grace that been in place for 45 years to use a parking lot across the street for the congregation on Sundays. Since it happened right after Grace winning their court case against the state worship shutdown, there’s little doubt the move was in retaliation for the church invoking its Constitutional rights and winning in court to gather for Sunday worship.
The notice stated “If Grace fails to vacate the premise as required, the District may enter the premises and remove Grace’s personal property.” After 45 years of leasing, with the church currently paying $8,301.41 per month to use the parking lot, it was given 30 days to vacate.
As Beth Baumann writes in Townhall.com: “The church held firm in its position and even challenged the City in court. A judge ruled in Grace Community Church’s favor, saying they were deemed an essential service. The order allowed them to remain open and hold indoor services inside the church until a full hearing takes place on September 4. The County of Los Angeles decided to circumvent the order. The County’s Public Works Department Issued a 30-day termination notice to the church for a lease agreement for a large portion of the parking lot, which has been in place continuously since 1975.”
Jenna Ellis, the Special Counsel to the Thomas More Society and legal counsel for the church, made this statement:
“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 said in a statement. “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.”
Whether or not you believe churches should be open or closed during the pandemic, this is a case that should be decided by the courts, not the whim of a city public works official – even if he is under the direction of someone higher up – even a mayor or governor. Todd Starnes reports that Mark Pestrella, the director of public works, is responsible for writing the eviction letter. His telephone number is 626-458-7000. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. James Sparks is the assistant deputy director. His email is email@example.com.
It might be time to let these county officials know what people think of this kind of political retaliation.