We do not live in simple times, so I apologize up-front for my inability to offer you a simple explanation and a simple solution. If you will take a few minutes, I would like to not only tell you the good news about this coming Sunday morning’s service, but to explain to you why it is imperative to hold that service.
Due to the measures implemented by Governess Reynolds pertaining to Coronavirus fears, we have altered our Sunday services in a way that gracefully accepts her proper desire to protect our citizenry, while simultaneously rejecting the unconstitutional portion of that same problematic proclamation. We will demonstrate how a local church is quite capable of exercising wise self-government, free from civil government interference, and meeting together in a way that will protect everyone and keep them safe and healthy.
We are taking the Coronavirus very seriously and desire as much or more than anyone to ensure YOUR safety and health during this difficult time. Yet, to the consternation of some, we believe we MUST go to church together. We DO intend to meet for worship this coming Sunday morning, but with your safety and well-being in mind, we will meet in a different way than we usually do.
Firstly, our goal in coming together on the church property will be in an effort to peaceably assemble and worship Almighty God! Our attendance demonstrates our faith and trust in an all-sufficient, all-powerful God Who cannot fail! His arms are not short! His power has not waned, and His healing virtue still flows!
Secondly, we will gather together to ask God to show mercy to our nation for our many national sins. A pandemic of this alleged magnitude is not a sign of God’s favor and blessing. It is the result of the sins of mankind wreaking havoc in the earth and Satan riding on the waves of the sins of mankind. We need God to restore His hand of protection upon our nation! As your pastor, I am not inclined to think that asking God for a favor we already know we do not deserve is going to be received by the Lord very well if those petitions are offered by a fear-filled, faithless people who are too scared to obey Him by simply going to His house to worship Him as He commanded. For THOUSANDS of years Christians have risked everything to gather together obediently and feel the presence of Almighty God in their midst. Shall we label them as fools or hold them in high esteem for not thinking like the world thinks?
As you well know, faith is in apposition to obedience. But we equally accept that true faith is also wise, rational, and inseparable from the reality of our personal responsibility. “Thou Shalt Not Tempt the Lord Thy God” is an integral truth within the concept of mature Biblical faith. That is why we have taken extraordinary measures to keep every person in attendance completely safe from any kind of illness. (I’ll explain more in a moment.)
Why have we gone to all this trouble? Why haven’t we just followed along like the majority of others and put on some pajamas to watch movies? Why am I so insistent to go against the flow? “Why can’t we be like all the other churches, Pastor Cary?” Here’s why. Truly, there has never been a more important time in our lifetimes to stand together in obedience to God’s command that we worship Him on His day than now. People around the world are frightened because they have not been delivered from the fear of death. They need to see the stamina like that held by the ancient church in the face of darkness. They do not need to only see the face of a feminized, subservient, western church led by hirelings, trembling in the fetal position while the death angel passes across the doors of their homes. So on Sunday, we will take time to pray for our city, state, and nation’s salvation and ask God to give us courage and boldness to lead them to Christ by the law of God.
Thirdly, our gathering together will be for the benefit of our city, state, and nation’s education in one of the most essential components of our entire federation as a union of states. Since our republic has no king, but instead was created as a “nation of laws,” we are able to use this opportunity to stand together against the statist abuse of power that is so tempting for those in positions of authority when they are compelled by emergencies and fears to act beyond the limits placed directly against them by the Constitution of the United States.
“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…”
These are the words found in the Bill of Rights, which is a list of specific limits placed upon all elected officials in this country. The Bill of Rights unambiguously informs all elected and unelected officials, including Governess Reynolds, the specific things that they do not have the authority to EVER do under American Constitutional law. Judicial activist courts (and most modern attorneys) may tell our governess that she can do these specific things that the Bill of Rights clearly tell her she cannot do, but the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land. Actually, the Bill of Rights was a restraint on the federal government, not the states. However, the Supreme Court has gradually “incorporated,” pursuant to the 14th Amendment, the amendments against all levels of government. Regardless, Section 3 of Article 1 of the Iowa Constitution provides the same language. The final arbiter of Constitutional questions is neither found in the courts nor among the consensus of modern attorneys, but in the people.
Regardless of what our judicial branch may do to hold on to abusive oligarchical power and encourage the abuse of authority by executive office holders, the reality is that Governess Reynolds took an oath to uphold the Constitution. She did not take an oath to uphold the fickle opinions of activist judges and droves of modern attorneys! It is imperative that we not allow an elected official to prohibit the free exercise of religion on a Sunday morning, and further, it is equally imperative that we not allow an elected official to prohibit our right to peaceably assemble. That is precisely what the governess has done. She has prohibited both, in direct opposition to what you can read as easily as I.
I have asked a question of her administration and several attorneys ever since she ordered the closure of our state’s churches. No one has answered the question because everyone knows it is rhetorical, and the answer springs my rhetorical trap. So to avoid the pain, they go quiet. The answer to my question is quite important, as our “nation of laws” cannot exist by merely citing the Iowa Governor’s good intentions or medical personnel’s understandable desires to protect people from germs. “Where in the Constitution are governors, presidents, or any other officials granted the power to suspend ANY of the restrictions imposed upon them by the Bill of Rights?” The answer is “nowhere.” In practice, the answer turns out to be “some unknown judge, somewhere, told an attorney it was ok.”
The U.S. Supreme Court stated it correctly in 1866. They pointed out that emergencies do not create supra-constitutional powers for officials to violate the Constitution. Here is what they said:
“The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances.” – Ex parte Milligan, U.S. Supreme Court (1866)
Allow me to put their perfectly accurate view of the Constitution and Bill of Rights into my own words and apply it to our present situation in Iowa… “You can’t violate the Constitution just because it is an emergency!”
“The law…dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binging over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if they are contrary to the laws of God.” – William Blackstone
My old fashioned and out-of-date views of our Constitution can get lonely sometimes, but I was so pleased to see that a growing number of people who are legally smarter and more influential than I am joined my chorus this week. The famed Judge Andrew Napolitano published a repudiation of what is going on in an article entitled: “Coronavirus fear lets government assault our freedom in violation of the Constitution.” I rejoiced when I first saw the title of his article on Fox News. I didn’t have to feel quite so lonely anymore. Just this morning I praised God to see the wise Governor of Texas in a televised town-hall meeting on the pending virus threat. He was asked why his executive order closing schools, restaurants, gyms, and limiting people at social gatherings did not include churches. He responded a correct view of Constitutional law, stating:
“There was nothing specific in the executive order about churches because there is freedom of religion here in the United States of America.” – Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas
Within ten minutes of watching the Texas Governor’s excellent handling of the pandemic, my dear friend and former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was quoted in the headlines declaring:
“Economy is destroyed by tyrants who pander fear in the place of faith.” – Judge Roy Moore
Then, I was refreshed to see Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie blast this stinging rebuke about the government errors regarding the Coronavirus:
“When this is over, the greatest harm to society will have been the public’s unquestioning acceptance of the unchecked authority of governments to force private behavior and disrupt economies. I fear the actions taken by our government will make FDR’s internment of Japanese-Americans look like a ‘light touch.’”
But the most important voice in harmony with mine was found in the words of one of my favorite attorneys and faithful Cornerstone member, Ryan Beardshear. He wrote: “However, those civil leaders, including the governor of the state of Iowa, have overstepped their bounds in trying to order the closure of churches… As a meme circulating succinctly states, we have no record of the Founding Fathers, when adopting the Bill of Rights, saying to each other, “Ok, but none of this counts if people get sick, right?” Thus, the Constitutionality of Gov. Reynolds’ dictate is at best questionable and at worst an infringement of inalienable rights.”
It is so unnecessarily confusing to the public at large when people in authority violate the Constitution with impunity and make excuses for why they have decided it is perfectly ok to do so. To make matters even more confusing for many Christians, a false dichotomy has been presented by some religious leaders during this same time as well. In the wake of the governess’s error, many pastors are saying things that are out of harmony with my conscience and discordant with sound doctrine. For example, it has been incorrectly suggested that we must either “love our neighbors enough to obey (obey potentially unlawful orders?) and stay home” – or – defy what we know to be unlawful orders and “risk killing our own church people.” This is done with a faulty view of the meaning of Romans 13. I know this either/or scenario to be misleading and false. Not only is it misleading and false, the truth is, we can and we MUST do both at the same time!
There are layers of problems with this particular fallacy. Here are the facts: It is intellectually false, doctrinally false, Constitutionally false, and, according to the top medical and scientific experts in Great Britain, it also happens to be medically false. Only a few days ago, on March 16th, the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, comprised of the Queen of England’s very best, declared that squelching mass gatherings of worshipers would have virtually no impact on stopping the spread of the Coronavirus. One must ask: why aren’t American authorities paying attention?
Further, we should all take note that the same state authorities who have arbitrarily commanded no more than ten persons can come near another have simultaneously welcomed hundreds and hundreds of people to jam their cars into enormous parking lots and overcrowd themselves under the single roof of the grocery store of their choice. Does the virus plan to only attack large groups that assemble in places other than grocery stores? Of course not! Their arbitrary exemption for a grocery store makes sense, they say, because “groceries are essential issues.” In their minds, a citizen’s right to buy potato chips is allegedly more important than a citizen’s right to worship as God has commanded. Of course, they are wrong. I do, of course, agree that food is essential and support the need for all of us to assemble to obtain food. Meanwhile, the “inalienable right to buy potato chips that shall not be infringed” is entirely missing from the Bill of Rights. What is NOT missing is the unambiguous “You Can Not Do This” – addressed to presidents, senators, representatives, governors, mayors, councilmen, and police – that the “right to worship and assemble SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”
Our adjusted service this Sunday will gracefully demonstrate that we are neither in support of governors nor any political leaders stepping out of their realm of authority and limiting American’s First Amendment rights to assemble for worship. We plan to set an example for other churches on how to meet on Sundays in a safe and honorable way, in compliance with the HIGHER LAWS of God.
It is important to us that you pay attention to these special instructions. We love our church family, and we desire for you to maintain your health and prosper in every way. If you have pre-existing health issues that compromise you physically, if you are above 65 years of age, or if you are struggling with fear, please know that your pastors completely support you staying home during this season. Self-quarantining is a Biblical response in a time of sickness. While we would welcome and appreciate your presence if you want to join us, we fully support your self-governed decision to stay home, too.
With that being said, here is how we are going to have church on Sunday and how we will keep everyone completely safe:
For this Sunday, March 22, 2020, we will meet during the AM service only at 10:00 a.m. We will not be meeting for our PM service. We ask that you park in the main parking lot and avoid parking in the side lots. We will remain in our vehicles during the service. You will receive more details as soon as possible concerning how you will be able to listen to Pastor Cary and Andrew Braze while remaining in your car. Although we realize that our children like to interact with each other and may see this as an opportunity to go outside on the lawn and play with their friends, we ask that all children please be kept in their respective vehicles as much as possible during the service with the exception of restroom breaks. Make provisions for your children in advance so that you can engage as much as possible in the service without interruption. Bring snacks, beverages, coloring books, and other forms of entertainment that will hold their attention. Depending upon the weather conditions, consider filling up your gas tank ahead of service and bringing blankets if you choose to shut your vehicle off.
The church restrooms will be open. For those who may need to enter the building to use the restroom, we will have people stationed at the doors to take your temperature. As you enter, your temperature will be checked, and if you are shown to have a fever, we will take necessary measures to protect everyone else from your sickness. Also, we will have extra sanitary measures in place, such as hand sanitizer available for use. You will be arguably safer in our church than in the hospital lobby or your local grocery store.
Lastly, if law enforcement were to come and arrest Pastor Cary or Andrew Braze, please remain calm. This is a peaceful gathering. Please allow it to happen, and do not interfere with the police officers.
Church family, it is time to muster courage! It is time to lift up our eyes and call upon our Refuge and Strength! He is our Great Helper, and we are in desperate need of His outstretched arm! Let’s boldly stand together as the Body of Christ and be that light on the hill for the world to see. Please join us on Sunday for another wonderful church service. You will not want to miss this service as it will build your faith, crush your fears, heal your body, and bless your family!
Have a blessed day, and we will see you Sunday.