Julie Roys, a yellow journalist who is on a self-proclaimed mission to destroy John MacArthur, has been ceaselessly attacking MacArthur on her website, the Roys Report. After attacking him for making a living off of his ministry and posting pictures of his house and lambasting him for living too close to the beach, she began attacking his church by claiming that his church has failed to report to the county any outbreaks of COVID-19 which is required by law.
John MacArthur and Grace Community Church respond to Roys in a lawsuit filed against California governor, Gavin Newsom this week. In the section titled “RESPONSE TO THE “ROYS REPORT,” MacArthur states,
- In response to Grace Community Church’s legal motion, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health has submitted a document published by Julie Roys on her blog in which she states that Grace Community Church has had COVID-19 outbreaks that it is not reporting to the County. I understand that our attorneys are objecting to this document as inadmissible. But should the Court consider it, I offer the following testimony to explain its falsehoods.
- In the first paragraph, Ms. Roys states that: “A document obtained by The Roys Report shows John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC) last week knew of at least a dozen people in one of its fellowship groups with COVID-19.” Later in her blog entry, Ms. Roys shows that she is referring to a list of prayer requests (Exhibit V to the Siegel declaration) from Sojourners (basically a large adult Sunday school class). In the second paragraph, Ms. Roys states that she has seen no evidence that these cases were reported to the County.
- These are informal requests that were collected by a lay member of Sojourners who compiles prayer requests and distributes them to the group. For obvious reasons unrelated to COVID-19, these prayer requests are not intended to be broadcast outside the group. The cases listed there were not reported to the Church office, but solicited and collected by that lay person.
- I have never heard or seen any evidence indicating that any of the people on that list believe they were infected with COVID-19 in some gathering at Grace Community Church. A prayer-request list compiled by lay people and distributed to members of an adult Sunday-school class is not proof that staff people or other officials at Grace Community Church knew this information. Places of business are required to report cases to the County. Insofar as Grace Community Church functions as a place of employment, we are required to report cases among our employees. Insofar as we are a religious institution, we are not required to report cases among our congregants. None of the people listed in that document with COVID are church employees.
- Further, there’s also no reason to believe that any of these people who tested positive had been attending our Sunday services. In fact, of the handful of people in our large flock who were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 over the past year, all the ones I of which I know were people who had remained quarantined because they had other medical conditions that put them at high risk. They did not get infected at Grace Community Church, because they were not attending services. Most of them were following strict health protocols and got the virus anyway.
- In the third and fourth paragraphs, Ms. Roys notes that one Sunday on which I was scheduled to preach, I decided to rest and instead let another Pastor preach, and that some evening services had been cancelled. It appears that Ms. Roys is attempting to imply something sinister. But there is nothing sinister about me letting another Pastor preach. I am 81 years old. I do sometimes take a break from preaching. It is also Grace Community Church’s practice to cancel evening services for certain holidays.
- In the fifth paragraph, Ms. Roys repeats a falsehood that she previously mentioned in her blog, namely that Grace Community Church was having a COVID-19 outbreak and pressuring staff and congregants to not report the cases to the County Department of Public Health. This claim is entirely false. There was no pressure whatsoever on staff or “church members” regarding what they should or should not report to DPH. If there was any such pressure by staff members, Grace Community Church would take it seriously and put a stop to it. But Ms. Roys has never come up with any corroborating evidence that any staff member was pressuring anybody to not report anything to DPH.
- Much later in the blog entry, Ms. Roys states that Grace Community Church had a COVID-19 outbreak in October 2020. This was only an “outbreak” by the County’s ad hoc definition: literally three cases where people tested positively (in a congregation of 6,000+). There has only been one other case, unrelated to the “outbreak.” All four recovered quickly. Ms. Roys also quotes Mr. Jim Layfield, a leader of the Sojourners group, for the proposition that Grace Church’s internal tracking and reporting of COVID-19 cases “doesn’t seem to be adding up.” My staff have spoken with Mr. Layfield, who confirmed that Ms. Roys twisted his words to create a false impression, based on her misrepresentations to him about the Church’s reporting requirements.