I been watching a bit of a trend on Twitter. It concerns a pastor, in Louisiana that continues to defy a judge’s order to not hold services at his church. I see people on both sides of this issue. Of course there are the ones that claim it’s a First Amendment violation – the “Free Expression Clause”, but others say that his holding these services, with hundreds attending, are a danger to the community during the pandemic. Although I agree and sympathize with the First Amendment argument, isn’t there another way for this pastor to convene services without them being in person?
Of course there are several. He could do a live stream over the Internet. But what about those that don’t have Internet capability at home? He could hold a drive-in service where people stay in their vehicles and listen over FM radio (both of these are being done at many churches around the country). Yes, in some regions, even staying in your car has been discouraged, but I think it’s less likely to community spread while in a car then to have hundreds show up in a single room. What he’s doing is dangerous and although in Christian circles (some, at least) he’s being praised for his heroism in defying the judge’s order, is that what this is really about? Is this really about exercising his rights under the Constitution? I wonder.
I believe it’s now more about attention seeking and gaining personal accolades than it is about upholding individual rights. Someone has to be a complete and utter idiot to not realize that holding large, in-person services, in an auditorium, may very well cause others to become ill, and possibly lead to more death. within the congregation itself and the community at large.
Although our rights are inscribed and held sacred by all of our people, I believe that your rights to free assembly and exercising your religious beliefs stop when what you are doing may cause harm to others. It’s a fine line that will eventually be decided by a higher authority (most likely the Supreme Court), but placing any individual’s rights above public health and safety should be disallowed to occur. This attention-seeking pastor should be held accountable for any new outbreak in his area and any deaths associated.
Maybe the judge should justly place him in county jail where he is unable to perpetrate harm to others. If he believe’s Jesus will save his congregation from the Wuhan Virus, maybe and Angel of the Lord will come unlock his cell and allow him to walk free. (Acts 5:19). This is a petty stunt by an ego-driven individual daring to be arrested, even enjoying (it seems) his arrest, re-arrest, etc. Let’s not encourage bad behavior, especially when there’s other ways for this pastor to accomplish what he wants.
We need not lose our rights during this emergency, but all of us need to use our own sense to make sure that no matter what, none of us become culpable for the spreading of this deadly disease. We can go protest the lockdowns in our states, but do so with the health and safety of others in mind. Just because I don’t feel sick, doesn’t mean I don’t have the virus. Being a good citizen means being responsible for your actions.