July 20, 2020
Among the most fundamental tenets of the Christian life as we eagerly await the return of our Savior is the gathering of brothers and sisters together to hear God’s Word preached, partaking in the sacraments in remembrance of Him, and fellowship with one another.
In California, however, Christians are largely prohibited from participating in any of these aspects of church life as the state continues to lob restriction after restriction on all places where its citizens may congregate—churches not excepted. Even in-home gatherings for fellowship are banned under the state’s coronavirus guidelines, effectively giving the government power to dictate what Californians can and cannot do in their own homes.
In an editorial last week, Mat Staver, chairman of religious freedom law firm Liberty Counsel, denounced California Governor Gavin Newsom’s oppressive limits on churches and Christians during the pandemic.
“First, Newsom tried to limit all churches, regardless of their size, to just 10 people total in the building,” Staver wrote. “Then he banned singing and chanting. And on Tuesday, Gov. Newsom issued a new edict via the State’s Public Health Officer dictating that about 80 percent of California’s faithful may not gather for any worship, no matter how small the gathering.”
Staver refers to an announcement made last week by Newsom’s office that indoor services are now banned in 30 counties, including in-home Bible studies and fellowship. “More counties may be added by King Newsom,” Staver went on. “In the other counties, the worship attendance is limited to 25 percent of building capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. But, singing and chanting is also banned, and this includes in-home Bible studies and fellowship meetings.”
The same order that effectively bans church gatherings, Staver also noted, gives plenty of leeway for protests to continue.
“Under California’s latest directive, you can engage in revolutionary riots tearing businesses and neighborhoods apart, but you cannot have a Bible study with your neighbor or friend in your own home,” Staver said.
“Liberty Counsel will be filing suit against Gov. Newsom on behalf of Pastor Samuel Rodriguez, who is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC),” Staver also announced. “The NHCLC represents 42,000 churches nationwide. Sam is also the senior pastor of churches in Sacramento and Los Angeles. The suit will also include many other churches in California.”
Staver chided Newsome for using the “tired old COVID excuse as his justification for stealing the constitutional rights of California’s Christians,” pointing to “empirical data from the CDC” showing that “COVID has a death rate of around 0.26% – about the same rate as a tough flu year.”
“Not only has Gov. Newsom supported the mass protests, for months it has been well-known that he has welcomed COVID-positive people to cross the border with Mexico and flood the California hospitals,” Staver continued.
“Once tyrannical governors taste power, they want more,” Staver declared. “Perhaps such governors know that Christians overwhelmingly made the difference in defeating Hillary Clinton and putting Donald Trump in the White House. One wonders if these outrageous restrictions will miraculously disappear after the 2020 election.”
“The U.S. Intelligence agencies attempted to subvert the 2016 election,” Staver went on, suggesting a more sinister political motive to the restrictions. “Then it was the ‘Russia Collusion’ and the Mueller investigation. When that didn’t work, they tried ‘impeachment’ … and failed again. When COVID struck, leftists used it as an opportunity to shut down the booming economy that President Trump rebuilt from the ashes of the Obama administration. These restrictions left millions unemployed and struggling.”
Staver, however, had a clear message for Newsom: “Gov. Newsom, I have news for you – you cannot chain the Word of God and the Holy Spirit! It won’t work.”
“It is not a stretch to imagine these local and state tyrants will try to keep draconian lockdowns in place until after the election,” he continued. “And then, be prepared for the next round when they want to force you to take an untested vaccine.”
“The restrictions on churches and houses of worship are illegal and unconstitutional,” Staver declared. “The First Amendment protects the right to worship as you please and without government interference.”
“If we allow tyrannical government officials to rob us of our inalienable right to religious freedom,” he concluded, “they will take more and more, until religious freedom is lost forever — and all the other liberties we have will also disappear.”