April 12th, 2020 is Easter Sunday. It is considered the most important date in history by the Christian religion. It is universally celebrated as the day on which Jesus Christ rose up out of the grave in which he had been placed after his death the Friday before by crucifixion. He had been declared dead, was entombed, and came back to life immortal. This is the message that has been proclaimed for 2000 years.
Today, in America, that message will be muted considerably because churches have been ordered by the State to close their doors because of the Corona virus panic, er, I mean, pandemic.
If the State can tell churches to shut down over a ‘bug’, then this can happen for any reason at all. In fact, history shows that the more totalitarian a State becomes, the more prone it is to shut church doors. America is not immune.
In defiance of this order, churches everywhere ought to throw open their doors, welcome everyone in, and get on with the joyful worship of the One Who was dead, but now lives. Pastors and church boards ought to ‘gird up their loins’ and tell the State where to get off. After all, as the Apostle Peter said so eloquently when called up before the Jewish Court, “We ought to obey God, rather than men.”
Will this happen? Not likely. Today, in America, worship of the State has trumped worship of the King. God help us!
Note: The above was submitted as a Letter to the Editor to the Ravalli Republic, in Hamilton, MT on April 4, 2020 and printed April 5.
I fully expect to receive blowback because of this, but it makes me angry that the US government, our government, can simply issue a ‘guideline’ (thinly veiled threat is more like it) to churches and other places of worship, which is then taken as law by those same assemblies. It is not my intention to disparage or minimize the danger posed by Coronavirus, but I will not be quiet when a governing official (whoever that might be—elected or bureaucratic) orders a church to close its doors. No government should be able to dictate which church can practice its faith, when it can be open, when it must close, how many people can attend, who can attend, how much distance there must be between attendees, etc., ad infinitum.
Most churches today are more concerned with maintaining their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status than with proclaiming the truth. Threaten the run-of-the-mill pastor of today with ‘sanctions’ for disobedience of State rules and he will probably cave, thus watering down the message of the Good News. More than likely, he will trot out the argument that, according to Romans 13, we are supposed to obey the civil authority in everything we do, without ever considering that Christians in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia were under the same mandate and subject to the same standard.
Where will we draw the line against the encroachment of the State? If the various churches refuse to stand up to its edicts and dictates, what chance do any of us have?
We must not be quiet or we will be silenced.