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The Church: Non-Essential since 1859.

Here is a real head-scratcher for some people:  how is it that governments insist on keeping churches meeting at radically less capacity because of COVID but those same governments have nothing but the kindest words to say about the Floyd riots?  How is it that the protests against COVID restrictions keeping people’s businesses closed seemingly indefinitely and keeping them locked in their own homes for just as long were cause for national shaming, much bleating about ‘second waves’, and assertions far and wide that the protestors had ‘blood on their hands’ for the COVID deaths we were told would follow?  This, by the by, was only 3-4 weeks ago.

If any of this surprises you, or shocks you, then you need to significantly alter your worldview, ASAP.   It was all easy to see and easy to predict.  Not like prediction in the sense of knowing the future, but prediction in the sense of understanding what logically follows from certain ideologies.   If you feel a need to buff up your worldview so it better meshes with what you’re actually seeing in the world, you can start on this blog.  Use the search function.

I wake up this morning to a more formalized argument attempting to distinguish between the protests of a month ago and the protests, today.   CNN asserts that over 1,000 health professionals signed it.  I didn’t vet it, but that looks about right.

Of particular interest, the letter goes out of its way to compare and contrast with the Michigan protestors who showed up armed at their state house.  The letter says the public health community was right to condemn this, saying they:  “privately mourned the widening rift between leaders in science and a subset of the communities that they serve.”  (‘serve’?  Nah, they mean ‘rule.’)  “A public health response to these demonstrations is also warranted, but this message must be wholly different from the response to white protesters resisting stay-home orders.”

Again, we note that the ‘response’ was public, nay, national shaming, literal accusations that these protestors were murdering their fellow man and responsible for those who died because they contracted COVID through the protests, and bringing the calamity of a second wave–necessitating continued lock downs, and ‘undoing all the good work we’ve done.’

Worse than that, I saw many people… especially super-tolerant liberal progressives… wish death on the protestors.  Above is something one of those people posted on Facebook.  I called him on it, with predictable responses.

Not only was this just a few weeks ago, but many of the ‘stay at home’ orders and other restrictions that were being protested were, and are,  in many places still in effect.   Presumably, these orders are based on solid science and are not arbitrary in the least, so there is a good reason why they extended to the last days of May (Wisconsin) and further (Illinois, Minnesota, California, etc).   Right?  Which means that the risk of circulating in public must remain real.  Right?

The letter characterizes people’s objections to being locked in their own homes for a length of time that seemed only to depend on the whims of the government, having their businesses shuttered on the same basis, and not being allowed to go to church, or anywhere else, for that matter, even if precautions were taken…  as, you guessed it… racism.  But not just racism.  No,  literal white nationalism!

The letter insists that for petty reasons such as these, no protests are justified, and that the continued guidance should be to oppose

“a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders. Those actions not only oppose public health interventions, but are also rooted in white nationalism and run contrary to respect for Black lives.”

Why would they be rooted in white nationalism, you wonder?   Do blacks also think being locked in their homes indefinitely and their businesses destroyed, for their own good, is a good thing?  If a black person opposes such measures, is he also a white nationalist?  The letter gives us several reasons, such as:

“Black people are also more likely to develop COVID-19. Black people with COVID-19 are diagnosed later in the disease course and have a higher rate of hospitalization, mechanical ventilation, and death. COVID-19 among Black patients is yet another lethal manifestation of white supremacy.”

Which begs a question, I think.  Won’t having tens of thousands of black people bunch together and spreading COVID to each other lead to their deaths even more disproportionately than was already the case?  Does ‘white supremacy’ kill more blacks than COVID would have, or now will?  Are we being told that if blacks want to risk getting COVID because of the other lethal risks they face because of institutional racism, that’s their call, but if people (“heavily armed and predominantly white”) choose to risk COVID so that they don’t starve to death, watch suicide rates rocket, alcoholism soar, etc, they not only don’t get to make that decision, but they are racists if they want to?

It would seem that if what we are told about COVID is true, then hundreds of thousands of black people marching in the streets is a literal death sentence to tens of thousands of them.  Black Lives Matter, indeed!  Maybe the deaths of all those black people is actually what the letter-writers want. It is hard to escape that conclusion, based on their own arguments.

But,  maybe what we’ve been told about COVID is NOT true, and they know it.

Setting all that aside, all I ask is that they be treated the same as everyone else (isn’t that what they want?????) so I hereby present them with their very own protestor card:

All this is a bunch of nonsense, obviously.  Wicked, and literally evil, yes.  But still nonsense.  However, I think I can re-frame it in a way that at least can explain the surface justification for it all.  Namely, its the idea of ‘essential.’  But framing it in this way exposes a major problem for a particular group of people… the Christians.

During the lockdown protests, there were many exceptions, in particular for people determined to be ‘essential.’  Resisting systemic racism is in the same category:  essential.  Here is what the letter says:

However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn [the Floyd protests] as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.

Let’s grant it.  I have no problem granting it.  I don’t have any problem with anyone protesting anything.  THIS IS AMERICA.  I don’t, however, think burning city blocks down and murdering people in the street counts as a legitimate protest.   Even in a pandemic, the Constitutional rights of every man, woman, and child remain in force.  Go out and protest to your heart’s content.  Want to risk COVID?  That’s fine.  But if you get to weigh your own risks, I want the same right.  Right?   Are you protesting because something is ‘essential’?  I feel the same way.

This category of ‘essential’ (which ought to send chills down your spine when uttered by the government) turned out to be largely arbitrary, which was a big part of the problem.   Some businesses could stay open if they were deemed ‘essential,’ which I guess means that the lives of many people depended on them staying open.  But other businesses needed to close, classified as non-essential, I guess because the only lives that depended on them staying open were the owners and a small number of employees.

As the country has re-opened, the number of businesses allowed to be opened has widened.   However, there is one group of people that has continued to be viewed by the government as completely non-essential.  Restrictions on bars, pubs, movie theaters, etc, have been scaled back or in some cases even eliminated, but churches have still been targeted with restrictions.   In some places, the last I heard, not even 10 people could assemble at a church without getting the hammer dropped on them.

At this late date, as business after business opens, as schools begin plans for re-opening, as venue after venue opens, albeit some with limitations on capacity etc, there is one establishment which is last on the list to re-open:  the Church.

Let us not be fooled by the fact that in some places churches are open because a court ruled in their favor, or threatened lawsuits forced the government to at least treat the churches in the same way that other organizations were being treated.   They had to be coerced into action, and do not doubt me when I say this… many, many Americans resented the churches for their ‘selfish’ desire to re-open.   (Yes, these are the same Americans who cheer the riots.)

Does the fact that the Michigan protests mentioned in the letter resulted in no bloodshed, no mayhem, and no destruction, matter to anyone?  After it was all said and done, was it not a peaceful protest?  Similarly, do you think it will be respected that churches sought their FIRST AMENDMENT rights through peaceful means such as through the courts?   HA!

Perhaps the words of 1 Peter 3 are in your mind:

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

If you think that anything any Christian does (or, as the letter illustrates, any person who happens to be white) that is within the rule of law is looked at with respect you’ve got another thing coming.   Do you think that in this country, in our current national context, “when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior” (like going to court to appeal for your rights as guaranteed by the founding document of the country) the slanderers will “be put to shame.”?

Hey, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it.  I’m just telling you that right now, they ain’t going to be “put to shame” in this world.  Maybe the next.  But not this world.

Why?

Because the Church is non-essential.

To the rest of the country, individual congregations have as much status as any other voluntary organization which does nothing more than unite people of similar interests.   The Tavern League, the Rotaries, St. Matthew Church… same, same, same.  Except St. Matthew Church has 500 COVID super-spreaders in it, while the local Rotary club only has 15 people in it who meet once a month.

If you are a Christian, you obviously will object to the idea that the Church or churches are ‘non-essential.’  That is not relevant.  What is relevant is that much of America has determined that the Church is non-essential.  They may allow that it is essential to you, as a Christian, just as they may allow that visiting your therapist is essential.  But that’s it.  Nothing more.  To them, ‘Church’ is just a big self-improvement club which has, unfortunately, managed to secure itself a privileged place in our society.

Why would they have concluded that?

Well, I could tell you, but you wouldn’t like it.

I have made the case many times on this blog.  No one liked it.  I have given presentations about it.  No one liked them, either.  I have been issuing warnings about it for more than a decade.

Back in 2007, I managed to create a national fuss within Christian circles by claiming that the Church in America was creating atheists.  This was right before all the data started coming out in droves that the numbers of ‘religious nones’ was skyrocketing.  This was just another way of saying that many Americans had decided that the Church was ‘non-essential.’

Almost 15 years later, we are getting clearer glimpses into what this means for the future of the Church in America.

I’m not going to take the time, right now, to explain how this has all come about, or what we can do about it.  The main thing I want the Christian reader to understand is this basic fact:  whether your like it or not, most Americans have little regard for Christianity and religion in general, and have a very high regard for the State.

The State, you see, they regard as essential.

But I will leave you with a couple of parting thoughts.

First of all, the 1 Peter 3 passage is no comfort to Christians hoping that those who revile us are put to shame.  Remember, that passage begins with:  “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?”

Excuse me, but what ‘good’ exactly are you doing?  The State is doing it all, now.  In the past, Christians shocked their cynical fellow man by being the only ones to venture where the plague-stricken are.  Today, secular doctors and nurses do that, and the very small number of  Christians who try–like Samaratin’s Purse, in NY–are dismissed as a bigoted nuisance.  If Christians tried to serve the plague-stricken today, they would be regarded, with scorn and contempt, as ‘super-spreaders.’

We did this to ourselves.

Or again, 1 Peter 2:12:

“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

What conduct?  Going to a building once a week where you sing songs (read: send droplets of infectious substances flying through the air?)?  What good deeds?  Where are the good deeds, exactly?

Do you know who is doing the good deeds?  The Government, that’s who.

In 2009, I pointed out that Julian the Apostate, 1700 years ago, complained:

Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. See their love-feasts, and their tables spread for the indigent. Such practice is common among them, and causes a contempt for our gods.

To fight back, he had his government do all these things.  The same thing has happened in the United States, except in the USA, Christians actually voted for the State to do all these things, thinking that their fellow man would pat them on their backs in thanks and gratitude for ‘caring about people’, and they could go back to their Sunday morning ‘worship,’ the job of caring for people properly and well delegated to the Stephen 7!  But actually all that happened was now their fellow man only sees the State doing these things and Christians making a fuss about wanting to sing!

I wrote an ebook on this five years ago.  Click here to read more.

We are soon to reap the rewards for our ‘good deeds.’


You could stop reading this essay now, as I’ve said what I wanted to say.  But when looking for my Julian posts, I turned up this one from 2009, which I think has some relevant content as well.  I’ve pasted an excerpt below.

This morning I woke up to a follow up question.  I thought I would answer it on my blog.  Here was the question:

I often see two groups of people.
One is are involved in a tradition rich church with head knowledge of rules and dogma. In reality for them, God is not often real in their lives and their rules without empathy or transparency drives people away.
The second could be explained as people involved in a newly created, often emotion driven church, with little foundation or knowledge of how firm the foundation of the bible and the church is. When real questions come up, they topple.
Both are in danger of propagating a fragile view of Christianity to people they know and more importantly, their children.
How can the churches out there tackle these problems effectively.

I think both of these perceptions are valid.  I have met Christian-turned-unbelievers from both categories in abundance.

How can the Church counteract these two extremes?  Lord if I know!  The problem for each is that they are utterly convinced in their own minds that their perspective is correct.   Worse, proponents have another harmful attitude where they would prefer utter isolation to change and adaptation.  I have met proponents in both camps- in this case, especially the traditionalist camp- who would go so far as to say that if their congregation shrinks, even to nothing, that is better then ‘compromise.’  In fact, it is not uncommon to hear them say that if their congregation atrophies, this is a sign that they are doing something right.  And the surest sign [to them] that a church is compromising with the truth:  if it is growing.  This is not hypothetical.  I can think of numerous instances.

(The meteoric rise of the Christian church in the book of Acts is apparently exempted from this reasoning)

So, I see your question touching on my first recommendation which was “Recognize there is a problem.”  Proponents in both camps recognize there is a problem, all right:  It’s with everyone else.

It should be evident what I think of these attitudes. This is one reason why I included as a recommendation that “Recognize we have no right to the status quo.”  There is nothing in the NT giving us any assurance that we are entitled to having church buildings the size of three football fields or facilities decked out with stain glass window and an expensive organ.   If all this was stripped away, we would still be obligated to evangelize to this generation.  Unfortunately, we are often creating the very people that need to be evangelized to, raising up weak Christians who promptly fall away in the face of a blistering secularist onslaught.  (See this article documenting my view that the Church is creating atheists).

[…]

In my view, things are going to have to get much worse before the evidence is so utterly self-evident that even these folks are persuaded.  One almost finds themselves pining for the days when Christians roamed the countryside, fleeing from house to house- and managing to convert thousands in the process.

One tempers that against the constant tortures and mutilations that accompanied it… so I guess in the final analysis it would be better if the Church at large today recognized the current situation and their Biblical obligation to own up to its responsibility in creating it and its responsibility to address it head on, making the necessary adjustments.

In conclusion, apart from making a stink wherever you can in hopes of forming a critical mass of individuals keen on taking the bull by the horns, there isn’t much you can do.  Even if we succeed in creating such a critical mass, the proponents of the views you mentioned won’t be joining us.  It is a simple thing in America to move down the street and build a new church building.  Regardless, we need that critical mass if we want to transform the Church.

In the meantime, you may want to try to fend off the damages within your own sphere of influence.  If the statistics are accurate, there are people in your midst in their late teens and early twenties who are on their way out of the church.  They’ll never say a word.  They won’t tell you.  They won’t give you their reasons.  If you heard their reasons, they might not even be very good reasons.  Nonetheless, off they go.  Find them, befriend them, and in time, by prayer, persuasion, and relationship, you might bring them back.

 

 

 

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2 comments

    • Timaahy on June 10, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    …those same governments have nothing but the kindest words to say about the Floyd riots.

    Citation needed.

  1. Will take the non-response as a lack of citations.

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