The United States Supreme Court recently ruled Governor Cuomo’s color-coded restrictions on a Roman Catholic diocese and an Orthodox Jewish synagogue violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion. Undaunted, Cuomo arrogantly called the ruling “irrelevant.
Taking a cue from Cuomo, California’s Governor Newsom is ignoring the Supreme Court’s “irrelevant” ruling. Newsom completely shut down all California churches in March under his stay-at-home order, briefly loosening restrictions in Spring, then reimposed lockdowns in July.
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Newsom’s “Blue Print for a Safer Economy” assigns colorful “tiers” to indicate infection protocols. The purple tier blankets almost all California counties. In purple tiers, places of worship are restricted to outdoor services with specific modifications that include masks and social distancing.
Where did Americans’ courage go?
Attending church services outdoors, kneeling on asphalt, sometimes bundled against cold and rain, I overheard another women saying, “At least this is better than nothing.”
I was shocked. Is attending church outside “better than nothing?” Really? The answer is a resounding NO.
First, as Americans, we didn’t have “nothing” before the pandemic. We had freedom to go INTO churches, to worship God in person in His house with those who share our faith. That freedom was dearly bought and paid for in oceans of blood shed by patriots.
Second, a gradual, systematic denial of rights is not “better than nothing.” In fact, it is a tactic to abolish those rights. An ever changing, mercurial, state run daily interference with our fundamental God-given rights is far more dangerous than a total shutdown. The creeping myriad of rules and regulations breeds uncertainty, fear, complacency, and ultimately acceptance of the unconstitutional violation, and validation of the illegitimate state control.
Third, this gradual approach is a far more dangerous and insidious threat to liberty. If our houses of worship were totally locked down, people would experience the deprivation. They would face the tyrannical denial of liberty.
If anyone had told you in March that “Two Weeks to Slow the Spread” would actually be ten months with no end in sight as we enter Advent, would you have gone quietly along? No. You would have rebelled.
Knowing this, the statists have employed their gradual tactics of control. They will continue to do so, proverbially turning up the heat until the frog in the pot is boiled alive.
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Certainly, Americans cooperated willingly at the beginning of the “pandemic” to protect and save lives. But now, ten months and still counting, blues state are compelling compliance through a myriad of legislative parameters, threats of fines and prison.
A government truly serving the people would inform the population of risks and leave it at that. Everyone on the planet is aware of COVID and its risks. State control is no longer necessary to keep people “safe.”
Our public servants should honor our individual choice to accept the risk to attend church, host family gatherings, and run our businesses. States can both empower individual rights as well as protect businesses from potential claims of COVID infection through repealing restrictions. Governors can simply sign an executive order exempting businesses from threat of prosecution or private litigation if they post sign stating “We don’t wear masks. Enter at your own risk.”
Religious leaders must fight against the War on Christians
There was a time in American history when the streets ran with the blood of those denying us freedom to worship. Now the state of California is limiting our right to walk outside, to gather with family, and to enter a church building. Women console themselves, mumbling “Better than Nothing,” as the state threatens prosecution of private businesses and restaurants into an Orwellian self-regulated economic starvation.
Recently, a Protestant insinuated that my desire to worship God in person was selfish. She told me that “we are the church. The church is just a building.” According to her viewpoint, I can worship God anytime I wish interiorly. Attending church in person is unnecessary, or “irrelevant.” This violates the central tenet of the Catholic faith: We believe that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is truly physically present in the consecrated Eucharist. The Real Presence occurs mystically at each Mass through the miracle of Transubstantiation.
Therefore, I have an absolute God-given right — even a command — to worship Christ in person before the Tabernacle in the church. An individual who tells me otherwise imposes his or her faith upon mine and is rightly called an intolerant bigot. When the state commands me to do so, it violates my First Amendment right to worship.
As David Horowitz writes,
The war on the virus has become a war on Christians.
Let me explain.
The draconian powers of government have been deployed against Christians, their churches, and their faithful during this pandemic.
It is nothing less than a dry run of government-controlled persecution of Christians.
And the little pushback these people faced as they trampled over constitutional freedoms is a dangerous omen.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court remanded without comment a lower court ruling that upheld Newsom’s ban on indoor church worship. The justices vacated the lower court’s ruling, demanding it to reconsider its decision in keeping with its ruling in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, the New York case.
Lawyer for plaintiff Harvest Rock Church, Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver, said of the ruling:
“The handwriting is now on the wall,” Staver added. “The final days of Governor Gavin Newsom’s ‘color-coded executive edicts’ banning worship are numbered and coming to an end. It is past time to end these unconstitutional restrictions on places of worship.”
As these California cases wend their way through the courts, We The People must immediately oppose unconstitutional state mandates with massive, coordinated, non-violent, acts of Christian civil disobedience.
Armed with both the Supreme Court’s recent remand of the Harvest Rock Church as well as its ruling in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should lead the way by reopening churches without delay.
The Catholic Church is the country’s largest religious denomination and has an organized hierarchy which allows effective communication and action. The head of the USCCB, Archbishop of Los Angeles José Gómez, should announce the opening of all Catholic churches nationwide then dare Gov. Newsom to arrest him on the steps of the Los Angeles Cathedral.