A US pastor who has repeatedly refused to stop hosting in-person church services is set to have his church car park confiscated by authorities. Pastor John MacArthur has been embroiled in a series of legal battles with the authorities in California after the state rolled out a blanket ban on indoor church services in a bid to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
He refused to obey the ban and won some legal ground in August to meet in person.
Now, in an attempt to stop people attending MacArthur's church, authorities in Los Angeles county have issued a notice terminating the lease on a car park rented by Grace Community Church.
"If Grace fails to vacate the premise as required, the District may enter the premises and remove Grace's personal property in accordance with the Agreement and applicable law, and Grace will be responsible for any resultant expenses incurred by the District," the county wrote.
A lawyer for the church, Jenna Ellis, responded by insisting that the authorities were "retaliating against Grace Community Church for simply exercising their constitutionally protected right to hold church and challenging an unreasonable, unlawful health order".
She added: "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.
"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."
On Sunday, MacArthur declared to his congregation that there was "no pandemic", citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"The CDC said that, in truth, six per cent of the deaths that have occurred can be directly attributable to COVID," he said. "94 per cent cannot. Of the 160,000 people that have died, 9,210 actually died from COVID. There is no pandemic."
MacArthur added that his church had been "suspicious of the fact that we've been meeting together now for weeks and weeks and weeks, and we don't know anyone who's ill".
"We know there are reasons for this that have nothing to do with the virus," MacArthur continued. "There's another virus loose in the world and it's the virus of deception, and the one who is behind the virus of deception is the arch-deceiver, Satan himself...and it's not a surprise to me that, in the midst of all this deception, the great effort that is going on is to shut down churches that preach the gospel."