While the vast majority of church leaders have rolled over on their backs with their legs up in the air over the last few weeks in submission to government mandates that churches be shut down during the coronavirus outbreak — despite the fact that liquor stores and abortion clinics have been deemed essential services — one Louisiana pastor is being charged with six misdemeanors for defying the Louisiana state governor’s orders.
KLTV reports “On Tuesday, March 31, Chief Roger Corcoran with Central Police Department issued Mark Anthony Spell, (Aka: Tony Spell), pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, a misdemeanor summons for six counts of violating the governor’s executive order (LA R.S. 29:724E) following his decision to host multiple large gatherings.”
The question we need to be asking is how much of our religious freedoms are we willing to hand over to elected officials despite the fact that our civil government’s highest authority protects our freedom to assemble and denies government any authority to stifle that freedom in any way?
Can a pastor be charged with a misdemeanor if what he is doing is protected by the Constitution? As Christians, perhaps we can make the argument that it is unwise to assemble in these situations but in regards to legality, there is no case that can be made that religious assembly — even under the most deadly of circumstances — is illegal. The 1 amendment — the most important and foundational of our basic inalienable rights — clearly states,
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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.
Should Christians stand idly by as we watch governments around the nation strip this basic freedom from us? Should we assume that the end game is the restriction of all religious rights? Does this set the precedent that the government has the authority to ban religion based on a subjective notion to “protect” our health or safety? These are all questions that need to be addressed.
These freedoms and rights were not granted to us by government but by God himself — hence the term “inalienable,” The Constitution of the United States was put in place and ratified by the states to protect these inalienable rights. Millions of Americans have died in war after war to protect these freedoms. And now we’re being told by our church leaders to stand back and obey the civil authorities who tell us not to assemble or face criminal charges.
When does this end? How far will we go? How much will we lose? Is this worth it?