Today many pastors…church leaders… find comfort in avoiding politics thus not ‘offending’ anyone. However, politics is not about to let the church off that easy. The church must be willing to take a stand for the Word of God. Avoidance will not make the ‘muster’. Church leaders and members must be willing to take a stand and in some cases it is not going to be pleasant. The attack on Christianity in the United States is already underway. Only the alert will survive.
Right now, pastors in America are being threatened, and some criminally charged for worshipping, the penalties of which are prison and fines. As difficult as it is to believe, pastors have been arrested (some put in jail) for leading worship, parishioners threatened with arrest, churches fined for religious services, government officials threatened to bulldoze church buildings, and home churches have been deemed criminal. This is not China or some foreign regime. This is America. The instances to be provided all come from pending legal cases. Pastors across the country are being arrested and threatened with prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and the closure of their churches…all because they meet for worship.
> Dr. Jack Roberts (KY) along with everyone who attended a drive-in parking lot Easter Service, was placed under a 14-day quarantine house arrest with threats of criminal charges.
> Pastor Kevin Wilson (VA) was criminally charged with up to one year in prison and $2,500 in fines for having just 16 people at a Palm Sunday Service in his 293-seat church. Every church member was also threatened with criminal charges if they met with more than 10 people. This church does not have internet, and they had no Easter Service alternative.
> Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne (FL) was arrested, handcuffed, booked and jailed with a mug shot and two criminal charges simply for assembling for worship.
> Pastor Cristian Ionescu (IL) was criminally charged with “disorderly conduct” and faces prison and thousands in fines, along with outrageous threats against his church, including destroying the building. The “disorderly conduct” charge was merely for having more than ten people assembled for worship.
> Pastor Che Ahn (CA) was threatened with daily criminal charges, with up to one year in prison and $1,000 in fines per day for holding worship services. The criminal threat and fines also include every parishioner. California banned all worship, including home bible studies and fellowship. (Not surprising!)
There are about 2,000 pastors and churches in 44 states under attack in part because of dictatorial governors and mayors who just keep grabbing more and more power, imposing ever-tightening restrictions on churches, and threatening pastors with imprisonment and fines. These pastors are willing to risk everything…even their personal freedom…for the Gospel! They are putting it all on the line for Jesus and His Church! And it is not just the pastors who are at risk. In California, every pastor, staff member, and parishioner who worships in church, or at home with anyone who does not live in the home, risks daily criminal charges and fines.
The California threat is a warning to all Christians in America. The Pasadena prosecutor is threatening to lock up Pastor Ahn with daily criminal charges, which carry up to one year in jail. But this applies not to just the pastor, it includes all staff, and every parishioner who attends Harvest Rock Church for religious services. The letter from the prosecutor says: “Any violations in the future will subject your Church, owners, administrators, operators, staff, and parishioners to the above-mentioned criminal penalties as well as the potential closure of your church.” This was a threatening letter not written in China or some communist backed nation, but in the United States. This should be a warning to every Christian in America. When you go to church on Sunday morning do you feel confident that you will not leave in handcuffs?
Romanian Pastor Cristian Ionescu lived in a communist country before coming to the “land of the free.” Communists first tried to assure the churches the government cared for their well-being. But, after a time when more restrictions were imposed, the communists threatened the pastors who pushed back, jailed some, and closed some churches. Fear and intimidation ruled the day. The real ‘shepherds’ did not cave; the weak went along and some closed.
It’s no coincidence that these attacks are happening globally, and here in the midst of a critical election year. If they can target and bully pastors, they can keep the church silent and control our nation. Let’s take a look at California Governor Newsom’s restrictions on the church. They did not come all at once but were put in place little by little. Here is a sequential progression on his restrictions:
> March – Abortion centers are “essential”, but churches are not.
> May – Churches can have up to 100 people so long as they comply with a comprehensive list of restrictions on every detail of worship, including Bibles and Communion.
> July 6 – A total ban on singing and chanting.
> July 13 – A total ban on all worship for 80% of the population, while allowing non-religious services including feeding, secular counseling, and sheltering an unlimited number of people in the same church buildings where worship services are banned.
> July 13 – A total ban on Bible studies and fellowship in private homes with anyone who does not live there.
> Yet, Gov. Newsom tells tens of thousands of protestors and rioters who pack the streets, “God bless you. Keep doing it!” This is pure Satan!!
All this is in violation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled many years ago that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment means that neither state nor federal government can “force nor influence a person to go to or remain away from the church against his will.” (Everson v. Board of Education, 1947). The Supreme Court couldn’t be clearer. When governors and mayors impose specific restrictions against pastors and churches, such restrictions are discriminatory and must be removed! Unfortunately, there is an agenda at work to use the coronavirus crisis to force the church under the control of the state, to criminalize Christianity and silence people of faith.
Caesar does not have authority over the church…both Biblically and constitutionally. Caesar has no authority to restrict or close churches. People have the right to decide on their own as to whether to attend church or not. In the Bible, the King had no jurisdiction over the Priest; nor the Priests over the King. The first King of Israel, Saul, committed a grave sin that cost him the kingship. After he performed the functions of a Priest, the prophet Samuel stated, “You have done foolishly…your kingdom will not continue.” (1 Samuel 13:8-14). Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and to God the things that belong to God.” (Matt. 22:21).
The First Amendment draws a red line between the state and the church. The state cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, nor can the state control the church…it cannot prohibit anyone from attending church. With the exponential increase in domestic and child abuse, pornography, alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicide, the church is more essential than ever. The church cannot be relegated to only a podcast! It is time for the church leadership and the congregations to decide to take a stand against the powers that detest and hate the church. Without the conscience established by the church, politicians feel free to do as they please and society feels justified in doing what man approves. We see examples of that daily in our society. Are you ready to take a stand???
Next week we will get back to the churches’ involvement in Vietnam era politics. Under no circumstances can the church deny its involvement in politics.
– Bob Munsey
“The only foundation for a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” Benjamin Rush