Grace Community Church and The Master’s University Have Outbreaks of COVID-19 (UPDATED with Church Response)

(UPDATE 10/27) A fifth case of COVID-19 is now associated with Grace Community Church, you can check the case numbers here.

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(UPDATE) According to an email that went out to the Grace Community, the people who have COVID are part-time employees.

You may have seen a report on the news claiming that there is a COVID-19 outbreak at our church. There is no outbreak at Grace Church. We have three, part-time employees who tested positive and are now recovering at home, having never been hospitalized. As we enter the flu season, we encourage you to stay home if you are not feeling well or have COVID-19-like symptoms. We are going to meet for worship this Sunday to celebrate the Lord’s Table together.

Do those employees also attend the church? This statement raises as many questions as it answers.

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(UPDATE) Jenna Ellis, attorney for Grace Community Church just released this statement in response to the LA Times article about the COVID outbreak at the church:

Three very mild positive tests among more than 7000 people is hardly news. 0.0004% is not an ‘outbreak.’ The LA Times and others’ grossly misleading and fear-mongering headlines aim to mischaracterize Grace Community Church as irresponsible and a superspreader. It has never been the Church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.

I wrote the public relations firm back to inform them that the actual percentage is .043% (3 divided by 7000 multiplied by 100). If they issue a correction, I will note it. Perhaps this is why MacArthur continues to cite incorrect prevalence figures for CA.

(UPDATE) – The public relations firm wrote back and acknowledged the math error.

Ellis also has the survival rate wrong. It isn’t correct to speak about surviving an illness you have never had. She incorrectly refers to the number of deaths as a proportion of the population. However, she is incorrect there as well. Her number (.02%) would lead to a death toll of 65,000 deaths. The COVID death toll is just over 224,000. The number of cases is about 8.6 million. The fatality rate among people who have had the illness stands at about 2.5%. The actual fatality rate may be lower, but it isn’t as low as Ellis and company want you to believe.

The term outbreak has a precise definition taken from the California Department of Health. Here is the definition:

  • In non-residential congregate settings, e.g., workplaces, adult and child daycare facilities, K-12 schools and colleges/universities:
    • At least three probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases* within a 14-day period in people who are epidemiologically-linked† in the setting, are from different households, and are not identified as close contacts‡ of each other in any other case investigation.

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The L.A. Times reported late yesterday that three cases of COVID-19 are now associated with Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. This is John MacArthur’s church where the members don’t wear masks or keep a safe distance.

In addition, MacArthur’s college, The Master’s University reported two cases of COVID-19 on campus. According to a source close to the college, a third case was discovered within the past two days. Apparently, there is something to this coronavirus.

Pastor John MacArthur is in a court battle with Los Angeles County over a health order forbidding indoor worship in the county. He once told his congregation that it was good news that they were not wearing masks and were not social distancing. He also has declared that there is not a pandemic based on faulty statistics about the prevalence of COVID-19 in CA.

Julie Roys reminded me of this fact from the past. Two people died as a result of attending John MacArthur’s Shepherd Conference in March. In addition to these fatalities, there was also a couple who became quite ill and was hospitalized in the Spring.

 

North Carolina: Churches Associated with 76 COVID-19 Outbreaks, 1,040 Cases, and 13 Deaths

As of October 21, NC will report clusters by location. Since May, religious gatherings have accounted for 76 clusters, 1040 cases and 13 deaths. According to the data shown in the chart below, religious gatherings are the third greatest source of cases associated with clusters behind meat packing plants and colleges.

I reported similar numbers from Georgia a few weeks ago.  I am keeping track of outbreaks in churches at this page:

Churches and the Spread of COVID-19

As of October 22, 2020, I count 552 religious gatherings associated with at least 6,724 cases of COVID-19 and 88 deaths in the U.S.

While Sean Feucht and others engage in potential superspreader events around the country, some churches are dealing with serious outbreaks and death of members.

 

A Conversation with Greg Thornbury: Wokeness, COVID Truthiness, the Consequences of Trumpism and Much More

My series of blogcasts this summer was fun and well received so I thought I would follow up with some additional conversations. The first one drops today and features Greg Thornbury, Vice President for Development at New York Academy of Art in NYC. Greg was once president of The King’s College in NYC and has a long history in evangelical institutions. I continue to get positive feedback about our first interview.

Greg and I discuss Eric Metaxas’ punch and run episode, COVID truthers, Al Mohler’s shift to Trumpism, the meaning of the recent conservative attacks on wokeness, and the potential bitter consequences of Trumpism.

Hope you find something of interest and enjoy the conversation. Please feel free to comment below.

Gregory Alan Thornbury, Ph.D., has been a college philosophy and theology professor, dean, and president of The King’s College in New York City. In addition to several books on theology and culture, he is the author of Why Should The Devil Have All the Good Music: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock (Random House, 2018) – a critically acclaimed biography that has been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and was awarded as the most influential book in arts and culture by Christianity Today for 2019. A popular writer and speaker on philosophy, religion, and the arts, he currently serves as Senior Vice President at the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca, founded by Andy Warhol. He is also a consultant for Good Country Pictures, who is currently working on film adaptations of the short stories and novels of Willa Cather, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Connor for film and television.

You can see all posts about these interviews by clicking this link.

Also subscribe to my Psychvideos Youtube channel where I host them.

Mark Driscoll Gets Political with Sen. Martha McSally

This Sunday, Mark Driscoll will host Sen. Martha McSally during the 11am service at The Trinity Church where she will give a testimony.

I hope they are on their best behavior. Both McSally and Driscoll are known for their use of foul language.  Driscoll famously shamed one of his Mars Hill elders into swearing during an elder meeting, even though the elder didn’t want to do it. He also was once known as the “cussing pastor.”

McSally is also known for her colorful language and brusque manner. When Senators were discussing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, she stood and signaled her wish to repeal it with an urgent profanity.

McSally acknowledges she uses “salty” language and, for that reason, refused to condemn Trump’s reference to “shithole” nations. More troubling than the language is Driscoll’s move into advocacy for the Trump agenda.

McSally will be a big draw among Trump supporting Republicans along with the water slides and other attractions at the property. A source close to the church told me that The Trinity Church is not using mitigation measures such as social distancing and masks. So add Driscoll’s church to the growing list of COVID spreading, Trump supporting ministries.

Greg Thornbury Talks About the Attacks on Wokeness

On Monday, I will post a new conversation with former The King’s College president Greg Thornbury. He is currently Senior Vice President at the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca NY, a school founded by Andy Warhol. You can watch the first interview here.

In this interview, I ask Greg about Eric Metaxas’ Punch and Run, evangelical COVID truther events, Al Mohler’s shift toward Trumpism, wokeness, and much more. In this brief segment, Greg tells me what he thinks Owen Strachan is really trying to accomplish with his recent attacks on wokeness (see tweet below).

So should racial justice advocates fear excommunication? Thornbury suggests they are safe and that another agenda may be at work.

Tune in Monday here or at the PsychVideos You Tube channel for the entire interview.

While you are at it, go subscribe to the PsychVideos channel.

John MacArthur, Tony Perkins, Wayne Grudem, Others Call Evangelicals to COVID Denial

Last night Tony Perkins and Family Research Council hosted a COVID-19 denial, Trump campaign, and Amy Coney Barrett support rally at Jack Hibbs church in Chino Hills, CA. Called Freedom Sunday, Perkins also brought together pastors and others who supported opening churches without restriction, including masks and social distancing. No one was wearing masks or social distancing in the crowd.

John MacArthur spoke by video and again cited the same false information about the prevalence of COVID-19 in CA. He admitted in this address that some were ill in the beginning although he didn’t say they were hospitalized. There are others who have been ill but people are not talking at the church. He also says in the Freedom Sunday video that they made no announcement about reopening. However, that description doesn’t fit the statement leading up to their first real Sunday back in session July 26, 2020.

The false information given in the Freedom Sunday talk is what he is also using to try to get other churches to open without mitigation measures.

In this video, MacArthur again says that 1/100th of 1% of people have COVID in CA. However, the graphic on the screen says “.001” which would be .1% or one- tenth of a percent. In fact, 1/100th of 1% is .0001. MacArthur is asserting that only 4,000 Californians have COVID-19. The 16,584 COVID deaths in CA is a greater percentage of the population than MacArthur claims has the virus.

I still don’t know where MacArthur is getting his numbers. His PR firm won’t comment. As in the Freedom Sunday video., he clearly here refers to people who have COVID-19. As of today, 846,579 have had COVID-19 in CA which is 2.1% of the population. According to Worldometer, 399,491 Californians have active COVID cases. This is right at 1% of the population.

In his Freedom Sunday appearance, he spread the same false information without being corrected. It is obvious that there was no concern for objectivity or facts at this event. If conspiracy theories and false information will do the trick, then full speed ahead.

Eric “Punch and Run” Metaxas, Wayne Grudem, and Che Ahn also lent their Trump support and COVID-19 skepticism to the event.

Why should I or anyone trust anything being shared? No one with expertise in epidemiology was curating the information. Skepticism about the virus and support for Trump were the necessary criteria for speakers at this event. The speakers said they wanted freedom to worship Jesus, but what really came through was their desire to hold indoor political rallies in the name of religion.

 

Faith Healing Bethel School of Ministry Scene of COVID-19 Outbreak

While Bethel volunteer worship leader Sean Feucht travels the nation defying COVID-19 health orders, back home Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry is having a COVID-19 outbreak. Since early September, the unaccredited school has reported 137 cases, with 68  current active cases. Yesterday, Bethel issued a statement detailing their response.

This has been going on awhile back in California. Meanwhile Feucht has been spreading the gospel of Bethel and maybe COVID-19 all around the country. Watch this earlier this week in Kerrville, TX.

So Feucht is out doing this while his home place is being overrun with COVID-19. What a knucklehead.

This summer in Texas, two church camps were sources of scores of COVID-19 cases, some severe due to activities just like was Feucht is doing in the video above. He should know better since he is a minister of a church with a significant outbreak. Apparently, jumping up and down is more important than the health of people in that audience.

A fruit of the spirit is patience. If we can be patient, we will be able to bang on guitars and make imitation pop and rock music with repetitious religious words all we want next year. Just have some patience. Breathe. But do it with a mask on.

I learned after I posted this that Bethel Church has expressed some mild concern about Feucht’s worship events. Nonetheless, he remains a volunteer worship leader and valued member of Bethel.

 

Pastor Greg Laurie Has COVID-19

According to New Yorker’s Olivia Nuzzi, Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California has COVID-19.

I don’t think we know the fall out from that prayer march or the Amy Coney Barrett coming out party. Unmasked evangelicals may or may not decide there is a pandemic after these next few days go by.

I believe Greg Laurie is standing unmasked behind Michael W. Smith who is at the piano.

There are many people there who need to get a test.

Greg Laurie made an announcement for social media. His Facebook announcement is here and the twitter video is below.


On Facebook, Laurie said:

I tested positive for COVID-19 last Friday. I have been in quarantine since then. I am happy to report that all members of my family have tested negative for COVID. My symptoms have been mild so far, and I expect to make a full recovery. I have always taken the Coronavirus seriously, and it has tragically taken many lives.

Laurie has taken the virus more seriously than say, John MacArthur. However, why is he in the middle of 50,000 mostly unmasked people singing without a mask? If he was taking it as seriously as he should have been, he would not have been there.

Ravi Zacharias Radio Show Dropped by Bible Broadcasting Network; CMA Re-Investigates Allegations

Bible Broadcasting Network have dropped Ravi Zacharias’ syndicated radio show “Let My People Think” from their broadcasting lineup.

We are saddened and deeply troubled to hear once again of disturbing allegations against Ravi Zacharias.  In the past, after hearing of similar allegations, BBN concluded we would give Ravi the benefit of the doubt based on our longstanding relationship. At the time, however, we expressed to the leadership of RZIM that future questions of this nature would require us to discontinue our broadcast of Let My People Think. We have notified RZIM of this decision, effective immediately. We will continue to pray for the ministry of RZIM.
___________________________________
 For God’s Glory,
Jason Padgett
Business & Operations Manager

 

Also today, Christianity Today published a disclosure that the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination will again investigate the allegations against Zacharias. In 2018, the denomination decided not to pursue discipline against Zacharias. Based on my knowledge of the charges and investigation at the time, I believe that the denomination overlooked evidence and did not do a thorough investigation.  The CT article implies that as well.

 

Despite Indoor Services, Grace Community Church Doesn’t Want to Get Sued if You Get COVID-19 at the Church

Even though L.A. County said they placed them in the wrong spots, Grace Community Church posts signs disclaiming responsibility for any sickness if a person gets COVID-19 at the church. Given this disclaimer, it is not surprising that persons who say they attend Grace say they have to sign a COVID-19 waiver if they want to volunteer at the church.

John “There is no pandemic” MacArthur’s church requires a waiver from people who serve according to three sources who sent me copies of what they say members and staff are required to sign in order to work or volunteer at the church. Last week, I sent the waiver to the public relations firm representing the church with a request for confirmation and/or comment but did not get any response.

The full waiver is linked above and provided below but at least one point is worth mentioning. Remember when John MacArthur said:

the good news is that you’re here, you’re not distancing, and you’re not wearing masks.

Here is what the waiver sent to me requires a person to affirm:

While wearing a mask covering the mouth and nose while in the Church is not required, I assume additional risks of possible injury and death by not wearing a mask. I understand that I may request a mask from the Church and the Church will provide one for my use. I have been encouraged to use a mask at all times when engaging in Activities at the Church.

I am not a lawyer but if I wanted to challenge this waiver, John MacArthur’s words in church would be exhibit A. Furthermore, during the weeks that Grace has been meeting, no one on camera has worn a mask and no one has been encouraged to wear a mask. No social distancing has been observed.

Here is the waiver of liability:

WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE NOTICE: THIS IS A LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENT. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.

I desire to participate in one or more activities or programs (each individually an “Activity”; collectively, “Activities”) offered, operated, sponsored or directed by, or otherwise involving, Grace Community Church of the Valley (“Grace Community Church”). The Activities may occur in whole or in part at or in the church (the “Church”) located at 13248 Roscoe
Boulevard, Sun Valley, California 91352 owned and operated by Grace Community Church. The Activities may involve, without limitation, attending or assisting with programs, events, instruction, and classes both inside and outside the Church and with or without supervision of Grace Community Church or any of its employees, contractors or personnel (collectively, “Personnel”). I understand that each Activity poses inherent risks of exposure to and/or contracting the COVID-19 virus. With full knowledge and understanding of these risks, and in consideration of my use of the Church and participation in Activities, I acknowledge and agree as follows:

1. Acknowledgement and Assumption of the Risk

I acknowledge that participation in Activities, use of the Church and any services provided by the Church subjects me to the following risks, among others: accidents which cannot be foreseen and personal injury, including but not limited to death or sickness from contracting the Coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID‑19”), the infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

I understand and acknowledge that:

A. The above list of risks is not inclusive of all the possible risks to which I will be subject in participating in Activities and using the Church and that the list in no way limits the extent or reach of this Waiver of Liability and Covenant Not to Sue (this “Agreement”) or any provision of this Agreement.

B. There is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any place where people are present.

C. While wearing a mask covering the mouth and nose while in the Church is not required, I assume additional risks of possible injury and death by not wearing a mask. I understand that I may request a mask from the Church and the Church will provide one for my use. I have been encouraged to use a mask at all times when engaging in Activities at the Church.

I understand that masks may reduce or mitigate the above risks, but are in no way a guarantee of safety. I further recognize that masks have limited capability as far as prevention of infection from contracting COVID-19.

I VOLUNTARILY ASSUME ALL OF THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH PARTICIPATION IN ANY ACTIVITY OR USE OF THE CHURCH, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO RISK OF INJURY, SICKNESS AND DEATH FROM CONTRACTING COVID-19 OR EXPOSURE TO COVID-19. I VOLUNTARILY ASSUME ALL SUCH RISKS WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATION OF THE RISKS INVOLVED.

2. Waiver of Liability and Covenant Not to Sue

I, on behalf of myself, my heirs, representatives, executors, administrators and assigns, hereby knowingly and intentionally (A) waive any and all liability of Grace Community Church and their respective successors, assigns, owners, shareholders, officers, directors, members and
Personnel (each individually, a “Released Party”; collectively, “Released Parties”) for, (B) release Released Parties from, and (C) covenant not to sue Released Parties for any and all causes of action, claims, injuries, liabilities, damages or demands of any nature whatsoever, whether known or unknown, anticipated or unanticipated, which I, my heirs, representatives, executors, administrators and assigns may now have, or may have in the future against any Released Party on account of any and all known and unknown, foreseen and unforeseen personal injuries, property damage, death, sickness or accident of any kind and whenever occurring, arising out of or in any way related to any Activity, any occurrence or event involving the Church, any Released Party or any service or program related to any thereof, whether such Activity, occurrence or event is supervised or unsupervised and however and whenever any injury, property damage, death, sickness or accident is caused. THIS WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE SHALL BE EFFECTIVE EVEN THOUGH SAID LOSS, DAMAGE OR INJURY RESULTS OR HAS RESULTED FROM THE NEGLIGENCE, WRONGFUL ACTS, OMISSIONS, BREACH OF WARRANTY, OR STRICT TORT LIABILITY OF ANY RELEASED PARTY. NOTWITHSTANDING THE IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING SENTENCE, THIS WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE SHALL NOT BE EFFECTIVE IN REGARD TO LOSS, DAMAGE OR INJURY RESULTING FROM THE GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR WILLFUL OR WANTON MISCONDUCT OF ANY OF THE RELEASED PARTIES.

3. Indemnification Agreement

I hereby agree to INDEMNIFY, HOLD HARMLESS AND DEFEND the Released Parties from and against any and all causes of action, claims, demands, losses, damages, liabilities and costs (including but not limited to attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by Released Parties or any thereof) of any nature whatsoever, including but not limited to those caused by the negligence of any Released Party (except for those resulting from the gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct of any Released Party), arising out of or in any way relating to my use of the Church or the services provided thereby or my participation in any Activity.

4. Miscellaneous

I certify that I am in proper physical and mental condition to participate in Activities and that I have no physical limitations that would preclude my safely using the Church or participating in Activities, subject to the risks assumed. I agree to read and abide by all rules from time to time posted in the Church or otherwise communicated to me. I agree to comply with requests and instructions of all Personnel. In the event of an accident, if I should be unconscious or otherwise unable to make medical decisions for myself, I hereby grant the Released Parties permission to administer necessary first aid, and/or to solicit emergency medical services as deemed necessary. This authorization includes permission for emergency medical transportation to the nearest medical facility for additional medical treatment.

I hereby voluntarily waive any right I may have to a trial by jury in any action, proceeding or litigation involving any Released Party. The laws of the State of California shall govern the rights and obligations of the parties to this Agreement and the interpretation, construction and enforceability thereof. I agree that any lawsuit brought against any Released Party shall be brought solely in The Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, North Central District. If any portion of this Agreement is held invalid, the remainder shall remain in full force and effect.

I hereby grant to Grace Community Church, and Grace Community Church reserves the right to use for promotional purposes any photographs taken by Grace Community Church at the Church or during any Activity. Such images may be used in Grace Community Church’s brochures, posters, website or other promotional materials without liability or payment.

I ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT BY SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT I AM RELIEVING THE CHURCH AND ALL RELEASED PARTIES OF ANY AND ALL LIABILITY FOR ANY LOSS, DAMAGE, INJURY, SICKNESS OR DEATH RESULTING FROM ANY ACTIVITY AND WAIVING MY RIGHT TO MAINTAIN A LAWSUIT AGAINST ANY OF THE RELEASED PARTIES, EXCEPT FOR ANY LIABILITY BASED UPON THEIR GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR WANTON AND WILFULL MISCONDUCT. I CERTIFY THAT MY AGE IS ACCURATELY SET FORTH BELOW; THAT, IF I AM AT LEAST 18 YEARS OF AGE, I AM LEGALLY COMPETENT TO SIGN THIS AGREEMENT; I HAVE CAREFULLY READ THIS AGREEMENT AND UNDERSTAND THAT THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT ARE LEGALLY BINDING UPON ME AND UPON MY ASSIGNS, HEIRS, REPRESENTATIVES, EXECUTORS AND ADMINISTRATORS; AND THAT I AM SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT, AFTER HAVING CAREFULLY READ IT, OF MY OWN FREE WILL.

A photocopy hereof, or a record of this Agreement sent and received by facsimile, email or other electronic transmission, shall be enforceable and shall have full legal effect as an original.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, this Agreement is duly executed this _____ day of_____________________, 2020.

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PRINTED NAME
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