This week, three Christian churches in California were reported to have secured court victories in their fight for religious liberty.
The three churches, according to Life News, are Grace Community Church, Cross Culture Christian Center, and Cornerstone Church of Fresno.
As reported in a news article that was originally published on the California Family Council website, Grace Community Church, led by Rev. John MacArthur in Sun Valley was reportedly sued by the local authorities for holding in-person services during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The tables, however, have been turned. Grace Community Church will get $400,000 in compensation from the county and $400,000 from the state of California, as per the settlement approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. This means Pastor MacArthur's church is repaid $800,000 in legal fees.
A year after the Supreme Court ruled against California's restrictions on religious freedom, the county reached a settlement, despite county officials' continued insistence that they were doing the right thing for their constituents. Several county officials were quoted in Newsweek as saying that "resolving this litigation is the responsible and appropriate thing to do."
Grace Community Church was reported to have followed early CDC directives in order to safeguard its membership until restrictions started to be lifted later in 2020.
The other two churches that succeeded in the same way were Cross Culture Christian Center (CCCC) and Cornerstone Church of Fresno. Each church received a $500k grant from the state of California and San Joaquin County.
They were reportedly among the first to launch a federal lawsuit contesting California's restrictions on religious freedom.
They have reportedly been represented by Dean Broyles of the National Center for Policy.
During the early stages of the outbreak, Pastor Jon Duncan of CCCC said that everyone was terrified and that they warned that they were going to lose their case in court.
However, he said that it is "never acceptable to give up your constitutional rights."
"Church is essential," maintains Pastor Jim Franklin of Cornerstone Church of Fresno.
"This was a long, hard, and sometimes unpopular legal battle. Religious freedom is non-negotiable, and we are so grateful for our legal team and that they never wavered in their commitment to us, to our church and to our First Amendment rights," the pastor said.
More church wins
Prior to this week's multiple wins for churches, there were at least two previous wins for Christians in California, both of which resulted in settlements totaling more than $2 million. They were the South Bay United Pentecostal Church and Fr. Trevor Burfitt, a Catholic priest who supervises mission churches in the California counties of Kern, San Bernardino, San Diego and Los Angeles.
While many news outlets have perpetuated the notion that churches are "super-spreaders" of the COVID-19 virus while at the same time ignoring the fact that California was enforcing more constraints on churches than businesses, the California Family Council maintains that the government has "no right to overreach within religious institutions during a national pandemic for the sake of people."
Rev. MacArthur, who serves as the senior pastor of Grace Community Church, said it right:
"We know that there is no circumstance that can cause the church to close. The church is not only a building but is the bride of Christ and exists to proclaim the truth."
Last month in Texas, House Bill 1239, also known as the Freedom to Worship Act, was one of the bills approved during this year's legislature.