Church & State

COVID-19 and Religious Freedom

The current COVID pandemic has affected almost every area of life in America, including normal church activities. Most churches cancelled every meeting initially, with some opening up partially and others completely after awhile, while still others remained closed. In many cases, these decisions were made by the churches themselves, but for others, decisions were forced upon them by governmental edict. Details vary from state to state and the situation highlights the issue of religious freedom with special focus upon the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Many Christians have given more thought to religious freedom this year than perhaps ever before. What has this pandemic taught us about religious freedom in America?

Churches Are Subject to Some Government Regulations

Contrary to the thinking of some, churches are not entirely exempt from government authority. Building codes, zoning ordinances, and similar requirements affect houses of worship as much as they do businesses and private citizens. Just because a building is used for religious purposes does not exempt it from regulation. Government has a legitimate role in the welfare of all citizens, and churches must comply with the same safety regulations that apply to everyone else. Government has a legitimate role in protecting citizens from various dangers, including diseases.

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Justice Alito: Some COVID-19 church restrictions blatant discrimination

"The nation’s High Court allowed blatant discrimination to stand in at least two cases limiting church activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told the Federalist Society Thursday (Nov. 12)." - BPNews

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John MacArthur, Pastor Who Has Defied COVID-19 Orders, Will Face New Hearing in November

"Los Angeles County representatives requested a hearing for civil contempt against MacArthur, who has continued to hold services at his Grace Community Church despite a ban on large gatherings issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom that includes services in houses of worship." - C.Leaders

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How Can We Simultaneously “Submit to Every Ordinance of Man” and “Obey God Rather Than Men”?

"...it seems necessary to amend the statement, 'We must obey the government unless the government explicitly tells us to disobey God,' to something like this: 'We must obey the government (1) unless the government explicitly tells us to disobey God, or (2) unless the government exceeds its jurisdiction so as to speak authoritatively into a sphere regulated by another, God-instituted authority.'" - Snoeberger

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“Our personal convenience (for example, meeting in an air-conditioned building rather than outside in the heat) is never a legitimate reason for disobeying the government.”

"...there is one exception that is clear. When our biblical responsibility to obey government authorities (or any other earthly authority) conflicts with our responsibility to obey God, we must choose to obey the higher authority.....May we too have the grace to disobey government authorities when they command us to do things contrary to the clear teachings of God’s Word." - P&D

1037 reads

“there was nothing magical about medieval political structure that could prevent the rise of modernity.”

"...the questions of politics must focus on how much liberty a society can tolerate before it starts to break down. This is a very old debate, of course. But it’s not a conversation that many critics of 'liberalism' seem very interested in having." - John Ehrett 

305 reads

“Is Europe Christian? It’s a more complicated question than it sounds.”

"...unlike so many other scholars, [author Olivier Roy] emphasizes the difference between Lutheranism (which, with its doctrine of the Two Kingdoms and vocation is 'self-secularizing,' giving religious significance to the secular realm) and Calvinism (which tends to seek Christian rule of the secular order).  He also notes the difference between both of these traditions and American Protestantism." - Gene Veith

845 reads

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