A pastor in Worcester, Massachusetts, has been fined $300, has been issued a criminal complaint by city officials and has been put on notice that he may very well serve time behind bars — all for the “crime” of defying the governor’s 10-person limit order and holding normal Sunday worship services.
And guess what: He’s not going to quit. You go, pastor.
It’s hard to believe that America has come to the point that Pastor Kris Casey, of Adams Square Baptist Church, can rightly be labeled a hero for holding church services.
Did you ever think this country would reach an era when pastors were imprisoned, or threatened with prison, for simply doing their pastor thing? Or that church-goers were fined and intimidated by police — as they have been in other parts of the country, in other churches, in other churches’ parking lots — for simply doing their followers-of-the-faith thing?
These aren’t just dangerous times.
These are horrific times. These are the times that threaten the very nature of the nation’s soul.
Yes. Just as God has called worshippers to gather in His name, too.
“For where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst,” Matthew says.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has sent His people scattering. In fear. In the very fear that God says is not part of His spirit.
And the prevailing attitude among nonbelievers — and sadly, among too many believers, as well — is this, a statement from Scott Scaeffer-Duffy in the WHDH report: “It’s the same thing with theaters and sporting events. It’s not discriminatory at all and this decision to rush gatherings is going to cost lives.”
It’s not the same at all.
Neither sporting events nor theaters — nor Walmart, nor grocery stores, nor alcohol shops, nor any number of other retail outlets or places of public servicing — have the backing of the Constitution.
The right to freely worship is specifically named in the Constitution as a core, basic, God-given, inalienable right; that is the difference. And it’s a crucial difference.
It’s a difference that makes clear government needs to tread lightly because, by God, the right to peaceably assemble and worship in church is indeed by God — it’s God-given, not government granted.
Cracking down on pastors is un-American.
Or, as Casey put it: “Let’s call it what it really is. It’s a tyranny, so that’s why I’m standing up to fight the cause and say it’s not gonna happen on my watch.”
But it’s frighteningly sad that it is heroic. Think what that says about the state of our country.
Face is, church-goers are quite capable of deciding for themselves if they should stay home, away from the pews, or not. Church-goers are quite capable of deciding for themselves how best to social distance, or not.
The government has no business sticking its nose in church business — COVID-19 or not. And what America needs at this time are more hero pastors like Casey to remind the government of that fact.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.
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