Actor Jim Caviezel praised the stand Los Angeles pastor John MacArthur has taken against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and LA County’s shutdown orders, saying the preacher is truly living out his Christian faith.
In August, MacArthur, lead pastor of Grace Community Church, sued the state of California over Newsom’s directive ordering houses of worship, gyms, hair salons and certain other indoor venues to close in the counties on the state’s “County Monitoring List.”
The governor cited the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the localities at the time. Newsom described churches as being part of “non-critical” sectors.
Despite the falling number of cases since then, the governor has kept the restrictions in place.
The Los Angles Times reported that as of Friday, 30 of California’s counties — representing 70 percent of the Golden State’s population — remained largely locked down.
Last week, a state judge sided with the county, issuing a preliminary injunction directing Grace Community to stop holding in-person services.
“We believe that the governor, the county, the city and the health department are going against the Constitution,” MacArthur told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday.
.@johnmacarthur is just one pastor, but he’s taking a stand for what is RIGHT, biblically and constitutionally. EVERY CHURCH in America should take a stand against tyranny that CHURCH IS ESSENTIAL! Protect religious freedom! pic.twitter.com/0P3zvCtdr0
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) September 16, 2020
“The church doesn’t exist to make sure it navigates around politicians’ whims. The church exists in the world to preach the saving gospel of Christ,” he added.
“Just to remove one obvious question, the rate of COVID in California is one hundredth of 1 percent. So one hundredth of 1 percent of 40 million people have COVID, and that eliminates freedom to worship from the entire state. That is the onerous reality,” MacArthur said.
The seven-day daily average COVID-19 testing positivity rate in Los Angeles County was 3.1 percent as of Wednesday. The goal, according to the state’s COVID-19 website, was to get the 14-day average rate below 8 percent.
There were 1,160 new cases reported Thursday, with 780 total hospitalizations among the county’s 10 million residents, the county’s Department of Public Health reported.
Cases and hospitalizations peaked in late July and early August, and have been dropping since.
MacArthur told Ingraham that he’s willing to go to jail rather than comply with the court order, pointing to the example of the Apostle Paul, who was imprisoned multiply times for defying government orders not to preach the Gospel.
“I don’t mind being a little apostolic,” MacArthur said. “If they want to tuck me in a jail, I’m open for a jail ministry. I’ve done a lot of other ministry. Haven’t had the opportunity to do that one, so bring it on.”
“Your courage and your strength at this time is inspiring,” Ingraham said. “I’m a Roman Catholic, but I’m very disappointed with a lot of ways that the Catholic Church has kind of rolled over for these prohibitions.”
Caviezel, who portrayed Jesus in the 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ” and is starring in the newly released movie “Infidel,” agreed.
“[MacArthur’s] not even of my own Roman Catholic faith,” Caviezel told The Western Journal. “But I’ll tell you, he’s something more close to my Roman Catholic faith than a lot of my own bishops and priests that are refusing to do anything. This guy is living it. He’s doing it right.”
“And I just know this, that there is a way of life in this country, but if we continue to sit back and do nothing … there will be a way of life in this country, and it certainly will not be Christian. And if we’re fine with that, that’s your future.”
Caviezel pointed to former President Ronald Reagan’s 1964 “A Time for Choosing” speech, which launched his political career, as articulating what’s at stake for America.
In his remarks, Reagan borrowed from Patrick Henry’s famous “Liberty or Death” speech, saying: “You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy?”
The future California governor and president offered the examples of Moses, who refused to back down in the face unjust decrees by Pharaoh, and Jesus, who did not refuse death on a cross.
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny,” Reagan said. “We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”
Caviezel also noted the inconsistency of people being allowed to crowd onto airplanes, but not attend indoor church in much of California.
“And for some reason, the COVID-19 doesn’t jump from person to person [in a plane]. Remarkable.” he said. “But the COVID-19, boy, it will jump from person to person if you get inside a church.”
“Americans aren’t buying it. It’s wrong,” Caviezel added, noting that church is “essential.”
Rev. Franklin Graham also praised MacArthur’s stand.
“The government does not have a legal right to tell a church how to worship or an individual how to worship,” Graham told The Western Journal.
“That’s in our First Amendment,” he continued. “They just don’t have the right to do that. They cannot impede worship.”
“And I think this whole coronavirus shutting down our country has been a big mistake,” Graham said. “I think the government should get the warnings about how to protect ourselves” and allow people to decide for themselves.
He gave the example of South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem as striking the right balance.
Graham accused Newsom of wanting to “shut the mouths of the churches.”
“And so I appreciate John MacArthur and I support him,” he said. “I’m behind him 100 percent.”
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