Good Intentions Don’t Make Government-Forced Church Closures More Constitutional
The most rabid and irrational arguments for forced church closures in the wake of this little Chinese virus are coming not from atheists or agnostics but from Christians, who are desperately trying to look like anything but fairweather friends of Jesus. Steeped in bad logic and ignorance regarding what it mean for something to be a right, professing Christ-followers are throwing their liberties back to the government as if this were a game of hot potato.
While I remain non-judgmental toward those churches that have closed their doors because they consider themselves providentially hindered by illness, those who have closed for no reason other than the government told them to are feckless cowards, as I have written before. But even more dangerous, these mice – they are not men – are busy throwing out justifications far more deadly than Kung Flu. It turns out that Christians, who do not understand basic civics, are our own worst enemy.
Consider this post from the ERLC’s Manchurian Blog. The Democrat who runs the SBC’s liberty arm fought aggressively to ensure a Mosque could open its doors in New Jersey, but told churches that it’s our obligation to close during America’s darkest days. It’s surrogate blog, SBC Voices, is doing the work of their Lord and Savior, Russell Moore, begging churches to submit to the government’s unconstitutional decrees.
So much for religious liberty…
Mike Leake writes, “I do not believe it is religious persecution for law enforcement to enforce a ban which includes holding religious services. Nor do I believe it is bold and God-honoring to hold such services in the face of a government lockdown. Let me explain why.”
Leake then writes…
“First, if churches were the only ones targeted then we have a much different discussion.”
Leake’s argument, which he doubtfully thought of himself and which is being regurgitated all over the Internet by Christian, who are confused about how the Constitution works, is that the government can close churches so long as it closes business, too.
Unless the government specifically targets churches, the lemmings argue, it can close them down whenever they feel it’s in the public’s best interest to avoid gatherings.
Here’s the thing about that sniveling drip of brain mucus: protection of the right to commerce hasn’t been designated by a constitutional amendment.
Oh, sure. The Fourteenth Amendment does protect transporting goods along the highways and the freedom to travel (which is being violated by these bans). And the Fifth Amendment says rights can’t be taken without due process (an emergency order does not suffice). And the Tenth Amendment doesn’t give the government power to restrict commerce (there is a provision for interstate commerce). The First Amendment, though, specifically and explicitly protects religious liberty:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Whether or not the government also unconstitutionally prohibits commerce from taking place doesn’t make church closures any more constitutional. Church is not commerce. Church services, as all religious observances, are constitutionally protected.
For some simple-minded peasants-at-heart, the government can restrict our religious liberties so long as their intentions aren’t to persecute us.
Read the Constitution, if you can read at all. It does not matter one iota what the government’s intentions are; whether they be to persecute Christians or to protect the general welfare, restricting religious liberties is not an option in the government’s toolbox. It is simply, without reservation, unconstitutional to stop people from exercising their religious liberty. Period.
Furthermore, I’m astounded that mice like Leake can say with any seriousness that churches aren’t being singled out by the government. They need to do a better job at reviewing the daily news. Currently, abortion clinics are open in 47 states. Most government decrees forbid gathering in large groups unless they are providing an “essential service.” Some states have specified that religious gatherings do not count as “essential,” but in most states, Quisling Christians have come to the conclusion that their services aren’t essential by their own judgment. Either way, as the government allows the Twix aisle at the gas station to be open but disallows communion bread, it’s absurd to say the government hasn’t acted punitively against the church.
But the greatest tragedy in all of this is that it has betrayed a fundamental ignorance regarding what a right is in the first place.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
A “right” is something that is inherent and inviolable. It is something that exists without permission from any earthly power or authority. A privilege, on the other hand, is a grant of permission from an earthly authority that can be dispensed or taken away based upon the whims of that authority.
For example, traveling freely is a right. Driving, however, is a privilege. Feeding yourself is a right. Hunting for a specific kind of game during a specific season, however, is a privilege. Get it?
Our constitutional rights are rights. They are not permission slips granted by the government to be used in a time, place, and manner of their choosing based upon community needs. They are rights granted by our Creator and only recognized by the government; they are not granted, but stated.
The person who says, “This is only a temporary. What does it matter?” is actually throwing the entire concept of religious liberty out the window. While it may be “no big deal” to cancel services to appease the government for a specific period of time, these people are actually ceding to the government the power to revoke rights and replace them with privileges. These unthinking people are dangerous.
If the ability to gather freely is a privilege and not a right, we have to answer questions like, “What is this supposed emergency? What constitutes an emergency? Who gets to call the conditions a crisis? When can the ability to worship be given back?” But all of these questions are asked upon the supposition that the government gets to grant permission slips for worship. And that, my friends, is a miscarriage of justice. It does not bode well for our future.
Other mindless auto-pilot drones merely argue that the government has not taken away the freedom of religion, but only the freedom to gather for worship. Of course, I stare at those making such an argument like Jews stared at the Samaritans. My religion requires gathering for worship, thank you very much. I wonder what kind of bizarre sub-Christian sect doesn’t require assemblies. Whatever it is, it is not Christian. But again, such a notion is presupposed upon the government wielding power to determine how my religion is to be observed.
Those who say, “I do not need to attend church to exercise the First Amendment,” sound an awful lot like someone who says, “I do not need an AR-15 to exercise the Second Amendment.” Because these things are rights and not privileges, the government isn’t empowered to tell me how to worship or what guns to own. Frankly, it’s none of their business.
A mature-minded person thinks about setting precedent in all things. If we let the government close our churches, then what does it mean we believe about the nature of rights in general? Frankly, it means we don’t really believe in religious liberties at all. We only believe in religious privileges, which may or may not be granted to us depending upon the latest crisis.