Strip Clubs Opened, Churches Closed
Government officials are using the coronavirus as an excuse to attack religious liberty.
Yes to strip clubs opening, but no to churches … because of COVID-19. This was the result after San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil issued a stay against the implementation of Governor Gavin Newsom’s order that prevents establishments from “being allowed to provide live adult entertainment.” Gavin’s order is his latest draconian lockdown measure as coronavirus infections have spiked in the state in recent weeks. Judge Wohlfeil’s rationale for his ruling was that strip clubs constituted “constitutionally protected speech” and that Newsom’s order would harm the business. So what about the religious liberty guaranteed in the First Amendment?
Well, in California, churchgoers are still being denied their right to freely assemble and worship. Paul Jonna, an attorney from the Thomas More Society who is representing a number of California churches, observed, “If you’re going to accept that argument that dancing nude is protected speech that’s so significant that it overcomes the government’s interest in regulating its citizens with COVID-19 orders, then obviously the divine worship of God, which is expressly mentioned in the First Amendment, should be held to a higher standard.”
Reverend John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, has defied Newsom’s edict to shutter churches since July. He recently hammered the state government’s intolerance toward Christianity: “The reality is that the COVID data just doesn’t match the government’s COVID narrative. You have a 99.99% chance to survive COVID. It’s not what they’re saying it is. That absolutely does not warrant shutting down anything. But especially, absurdly and arbitrarily, churches that have a special protection [in] the Constitution. Oh, and at the same time, leaving open abortion clinics, strip clubs, and marijuana dispensaries. And by the way, the Health Department is on record as saying they are going to allow riots and protests without regard for the mandated health and safety ordinances. This is obvious targeted discrimination. Leftists and secular government officials have no tolerance for biblical Christianity, so they’re using COVID as an excuse to shut us down.”
Meanwhile, the same is true in New York. “We have a couple of unique clusters, frankly, which are more religious organizations, and that’s what we’re targeting,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said of tightened COVID restrictions. Two Orthodox Jewish synagogues and the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn have sued, appealing to the Supreme Court for relief.
What has become patently obvious is that many of America’s elected officials — primarily Democrats — have little regard for religious liberty at best and open disdain for it at worst. They view religious faith as akin to a personal hobby, not an essential and central feature of the lives of millions of Americans. To believers, going to church is an essential aspect of their lives. The Constitution recognizes religion and the free practice of it as a fundamental right that’s due protection of the highest order. It’s not just another social organization that can be shut down in emergencies. It is, in fact, the very soul, the very life blood of many American communities. It’s where Christians gather to worship God; it’s where they find eternal hope for the future; it’s where they encourage one another with the truth that the sovereign Creator of the universe is in control and will sustain them. Human governments aren’t God, nor can they ever hope to be.