Wednesday, June 10, 2020 : By Isa Ryan
What does that mean to you?
The Merriam-Webster definition of “essential” includes “of, relating to, or constituting essence: inherent,” and, perhaps more striking in these times, “of the utmost importance.”
Our nation was founded by Christians and deists who understood the importance of faith in the forming of a civil society. They considered the morals of Christian society to be, well, essential to the function of our nation.
As the founding documents so clearly demonstrate, the framers were far more concerned with protecting the right to worship freely than they were with keeping people safe. As revolutionary general and ratifier of the Constitution, Patrick Henry, said, “The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.”
When the coronavirus began to creep into our country, and our national psyche, however, we had long since laid down this armor as a nation.
This was quickly evidenced by the treatment of churches amid the outbreak and the subsequent battle over the right to worship in the wake of widespread shutdown measures.
Our nation’s priorities when it comes to faith have become terribly skewed.
In the early days of coronavirus lockdowns, many Christians, somewhat understandably, were willing to forsake gathering together for what we were told would be just a few short weeks.
For people who are taught by the Bible to love their neighbor, this was easy to justify, especially considering how little we knew about the novel coronavirus when it was first declared to be a pandemic.
As time went on, however, it became clear that for those who had deemed their congregation capable of practicing adequate safety measures, the choice to remain home or worship safely together was not viewed by the state as being a matter of free will.
Although they have since been allowed to attend in-person services after challenging the state, members of the Maryville Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky had their license plates recorded by state law enforcement while attending a parking lot service, which couldn’t possibly have been more adherent to social distancing guidelines.
Pastor Jack Roberts of Maryville Baptist rightly argued that he and his congregants had the constitutional right to worship, and held the parking lot service in defiance of an order from Governor Andy Beshear which prohibited such gatherings, even when people remained in their cars.
He was then ordered to self-quarantine for two weeks as a result.
There was also the case of a Greenville, Mississippi church where members were fined $500 for attending a parking lot service.
In Tampa, Florida, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested for holding services, despite reportedly applying social distancing measures.
In perhaps one of the most gut-wrenching indications of our society’s twisted values when it comes to faith, as Life Site News recently noted, that while the now-notorious Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH has said it is not safe to take communion, on another occasion, he said that if you’d like to engage in a casual sexual encounter, such a risk is “your choice.”
Let that sink in while you pray for our nation.
When it comes to our natural rights to corporate worship, the Trump administration, for its part, has been quite clear that they wish to see the First Amendment is not violated for the sake of keeping a state on lockdown. Attorney General Bill Barr and the DOJ have signalled they are keeping a close eye on the states for just this reason, while Trump declared churches to be “essential” last weekend, which indeed they are.
However, the Supreme Court has sided with California’s restrictions that churches must be kept at 25 percent capacity during the ongoing state-wide lockdown in a chilling deviation from their duty to uphold the constitution of the United States.
This is both a legal and cultural issue. States have been able to so quickly overreach their constitutional authority thanks to a church that has fallen asleep in the pews. Not only are we not educated in what rights the government has to limit our fellowship, we have also allowed secular culture to replace our Christian heritage.
This is not just about whether or not church should be considered essential. This is about how essential Christian revival is for the spiritual health of our entire nation.