Trampling Rights

April 1, 2020 | - April 2, 2020

I wrote briefly yesterday about the Tampa-area pastor who was arrested for holding a Sunday church service in defiance of an order against large gatherings, and asked for your responses. Since then, that story has exploded into other very important areas. Last night, I was on Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News to discuss this story…

…which has taken on new meaning in light of rising infringements on Constitutional rights. Local authorities say they support freedom of religion, but the church service endangered the public health in violation of quarantine. However, the church claims the service was conducted with great care, including social distancing of attendees and other strict health precautions. My friends at the Liberty Counsel are defending the pastor. And a Pennsylvania pastor wants by holding an "outdoor Easter blowout service" a la Woodstock to show solidarity.

Both the defiance of the lockdown orders and the draconian measures some political office holders are using to enforce them have given rise to a serious debate about whether we are in danger of losing our Constitutional rights, not just during the current health emergency, but from now on. Personally, I believe that for the safety of me, my family and my community, it’s best to do whatever is necessary to stop the spread of this disease, and that can include innovative ways to worship, such as streaming services online or even this.

The bigger issue, though, is the swiftness with which our elected leaders, particularly mayors and governors of deep blue areas, have rushed right past “leadership” directly to “dictatorship.” While it might or might not be within their powers to curtail some freedoms during a deadly pandemic, their lack of concern for how that impacts individual rights is a warning sign that either they don’t understand those rights or hold them in contempt. Neither quality is acceptable in someone who holds powerful office.

For instance, it is one thing to order people to stay inside during an emergency. You might even justify arresting someone for defying that order. But in New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio threatened to “permanently” close any church or synagogue that violated it (tellingly, he didn’t threaten mosques, but that’s another issue.) By what possible right does he claim power to take away people’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of assembly “permanently”?

Some of these officials seem to be winging it without even thinking about it. For example, they’ll release all the criminals from jail, because they might catch the virus there. Then they try to deprive citizens of their Second Amendment right to defend themselves from the criminals they released by closing gun stores. The Mayor of Washington, DC, even threatened to arrest and jail people who go outside. So to recap: they’d empty the jails to protect criminals from getting the virus, then put citizens into the virus-ridden jails they just let the criminals out of, just for leaving their homes, because that might give someone the virus. If you can follow that circuitous reasoning, please send me the directions.

This is a time when it’s important for our officials to keep the public informed and alert, to show leadership and lead by example, and to impress on everyone the importance of voluntary compliance with guidelines to save lives. Draconian enforcement should be a last resort, not a first resort, and never should it be allowed to become commonplace after this passes.

Just as the public needs stern, sober reminders of why their cooperation is a matter of life and death, so do some political figures need a remedial lesson in Constitutional rights. Lesson one: the Bill of Rights is not a list of things that the state allows us to do, if we’re good and use them only the way they want. It’s a list of rights granted to us by God that the state cannot take away, except by tyranny.

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Comments 1-8 of 8

  • Joyce Davis

    04/02/2020 01:18 PM

    THANK YOU. My concern is - what do we do about it once this is over. Do we march? Do we scream and yell? It seems there are not enough of us in the cities especially to just vote them out. And there are enough people that like the nanny state. I have real concerns about this. I KNOW GOD HOLDS MY FUTURE, AND MY PRESENT AND HE WORKSFOR MY GOOD.

  • Robyn Smith Tweedy

    04/02/2020 01:09 PM

    Wow Governor, this is why I wanted to vote for you when you last ran for President! You are able to zero in on what’s real about a situation every time.
    In a time like we find ourselves I believe when a far left Democrat is running a state that those residents should be VERY concerned because the children are running the show. I believe this entire corona situation is the Dems putting into action what Gov Emanuel (or was it Rules for Radicals?) said which is to never let a good crisis go to waste. They always use a situation where no one can say anything. Like in a situation where racism can be blamed for a situation (even when it isn’t the case) then those who aren’t black who say it’s anything hit racism are called racists and thereby muzzled because they can’t know the struggle blacks know and if they do say something they become a target for doing so because Dems are downright insane and dangerous. Also, like in our situation, in the case of speaking against social distancing or quarantining to not spread this virus because you are stuck inside 24/7 with your very LOUD, very large, very angry, Tourretic, self injurious, autistic son who doesn’t understand what the heck is going on and who’s behaviors are killing him (literally) and killing you, his 60(ish) year old parents (likely) during one fit or another because no worker can come due to social distancing and due to no centers being open and due to no more school up the middle of the day indefinitely (to give you some peace) PLUS your income stopped ON A DIME and even those who were about to pay you can’t now because of all of this and you long ago had exhausted all your savings for the child you’re trying to help on a daily. Oh, but if we say one tiny thing about how we have to put America back to work so that the economy can come back and so that my husband can resume an income and so that we can get workers to come take our son to do things so that he will enjoy life in his limited capacity a little more but mostly so that we can feed him (he’s big and 17) if you say anything about getting America back to work THEN THEN THEN you are pegged as heartless to those suffering and dying (which is always sad and horrible) because you are also expected to die for the common good. Governor, I just know that this is a good crisis they are not letting go to waste. I believe when the numbers come out that this will all be less than the seasonal flu. Everyone is freaking out because there is no vaccines yet and it is very horrible that people are dying for THAT reason. I do genuinely understand that. To date, for known flus, for those who have weakened immune systems, we have a vaccine for so the emergency is that we need to quickly find one for this one but each year even the vaccine doesn’t save a huge number of those a certain age group or with certain conditions they may have. Those are the groups for whom the flu kills in huge numbers each year but no one declares martial law during that time every year. No this is because of no vaccine yet but it’s equally because this is in some way an effort to either stop the presidential vote in November OR its to TRY to make the President look bad so his number of supporters dwindle (little do they know this will all work in his favor instead because he always has the correct focus in all situations and most Americans know that when they see it) but if any of us normal Americans say any of this we are muzzled by being called heartless. I actually heard someone say that even if all of our financial lives are ruined (which eventually leads to our ACTUAL lives ruined) that it’s all worth it if that situation would save ONE life. Are you kidding me?! Gov please don’t use my name because our life is already very very difficult every waking moment so we don’t need more difficult. I wrote this because I know that you know in your heart all of this but that you are also muzzled because for you to speak the reality would ruin you. So use my thoughts here for whatever they are worth but again don’t use our name. Thanks!

  • Dianna Jones

    04/02/2020 12:03 PM

    Amen we need the LORD’s protection and we are in desperate need of a revival!!!

  • Nancy Brown

    04/02/2020 11:48 AM

    Thank you, Sir. Exactly what needs to be said, over and over.

  • Philip j Pantaleo

    04/02/2020 11:11 AM

    Here in Florida I am still asking "What law did they pass, did our representatives change any laws, what law are we breaking?" I looked over the Florida Constitution and, not being a trained legal expert, I am not sure it is any different than our National Constitution. We are trampling the 1st, 4th, 5th and 10th amendments on a state level. I do not have the funds to hire a lawyer to challenge the Governor's TV edits and hope ACLU does something for the American public soon.

  • Cynthia Eby

    04/02/2020 11:00 AM

    Maybe shutting down church services forever is ridiculous but it sounds like he is frustrated. Ohio govenor said 10 people and our churches except for one that I know of shutdown. The result of not shutting down could be over running our health care services. Online is working fine. It is going to be awhile until we can control it. I can't understand why you would take a chance in subjecting your congregation to the virus. This is an emergency and I dont feel like they are trying to take away rights.

  • Joan Meyer

    04/02/2020 10:55 AM

    I have found during this whole situation in American starting with the election and impeachment crap and now the virus.....most liberal Democrats just don't think. They are so caught up in the frenzy of hate, "let's make Trump stupid", twist words of those who are on the other side, they just don't think. I have an acquaintance on Facebook who is so volatile against Trump that she just doesn't think. And she is a highly educated woman. Being educated does not guarantee that you are wise, smart or know how to think for yourself.

  • Sherry Coates

    04/02/2020 09:37 AM

    Good words, Mike! A fair and balanced assessment of the situation?? I just wish churches would remember what the Bible says about following our government leaders.

    Romans 13:1-2 MEV
    13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.