Grace Community Church Pastor John MacArthur recently said that “any real” Christian will vote for Republican President Donald Trump in November because they cannot support the policy agenda of the Democratic Party.
MacArthur is mired in a legal battle with California officials over his church holding indoor worship services during the state's second-imposed lockdown in response to COVID-19.
In an interview with the Falkirk Center at Liberty University in August, MacArthur discussed a phone conversation he had with the president over the litigation.
“He called me after the Sunday morning service and he was very gracious and said, ‘I just want to thank you for taking a stand. Church is essential, and I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing,’” MacArthur recalled.
The pastor then explained that he and the president “talked a little bit about why, certainly from a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote Democratic.”
“There’s no way that a Christian can affirm the slaughter of babies, homosexual activity, homosexual marriage, or any kind of gross immorality,” MacArthur asserted.
“No way we could stand behind a candidate who was affirming transgender behavior, which of course is really the ‘reprobate mind’ of Romans 1.”
MacArthur said he told Trump that abortion and LGBT matters “aren’t even political of us,” but rather “these things are biblical; these things are laid down by the Word of God.”
“I said [to Trump] ‘any real, true believer is going to be on your side in this election,’ because it’s not just an individual, it’s an entire set of policies that Christians cannot in any way affirm,” he added.
In July, California Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated a second-round of lockdowns affecting over 30 of the state's 58 counties and the churches in those areas that were banned from holding indoor worship services.
Grace Community Church initially complied with California's restrictions before changing course. During the lockdowns, the church moved to a livestream model and closed down in-person services. But over time, MacArthur said, parishioners started showing up again, so they decided to restart in-person worship services.
Church leaders have said that the government doesn't have the authority to stop them from gathering, and accused the state and Los Angeles County of violating their religious freedom.
The church filed a lawsuit on Aug. 12 against California over its ongoing restrictions on indoor worship as part of its response to COVID-19.
On Aug. 15, Judge James Chalfant of Los Angeles Superior Court agreed with MacArthur and his church that it is the county’s burden to show why they should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion.
However, on Aug. 16, the California Court of Appeal struck down the lower court's ruling that would have allowed the congregation to gather indoors without a limit on the number of attendees as long as churchgoers wore masks and adhered to social distancing requirements.
The church has continued to gather in defiance of the ruling.
In a letter dated Aug. 28, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works told Grace Community that they were being evicted from a parcel of land they use as a parking lot.
The county warned that if the church did not vacate the premise, “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.”
While MacArthur has argued that Christians cannot vote Democrat in November, others, including a granddaughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, have argued differently.
Jerushah Duford wrote an opinion piece for USA Today last month where she argued that evangelical support for Trump was insulting to the Graham legacy and said, "My faith and my church have become a laughing stock."
In her opinion piece, Duford spoke of “that tug” she feels whenever Trump says or advocates something that goes against her Christian beliefs.
“I feel it every time our president talks about government housing having no place in America’s suburbs. Jesus said repeatedly to defend the poor and show kindness and compassion to those in need,” wrote Duford in response to an Obama-era housing rule that Trump revoked.
“I feel this tug every time our president or his followers speak about the wall, designed to keep out the very people Scripture tells us to welcome. In Trump’s America, refugees are not treated as 'native born,' as Scripture encourages. Instead, families are separated, held in inconceivable conditions and cast aside as less than."