Robin Smith / Dec. 21, 2020

Public Health: Protest vs. Praise

People who attend church are mentally healthier this year. Why ban that?

It’s interesting that there’s so much division around masks. Well, masks of another sort are relevant in the selective application of rules limiting capacity of worship services versus operations of big box stores, casinos, and secular gatherings.

In theater, one actor can hide behind a mask to play a role or switch masks with another to change identities, roles, or positions. The word hypocrisy originates from the ancient Greek word meaning to pretend, play a part, or be a judge in a mask.

Hiding behind the mask of public health and safety, governments have limited church and religious gatherings in Colorado, California, New Jersey, Nevada, and New York (as well as urban counties around the nation) despite the recent Supreme Court rulings that clearly protect the First Amendment right and practices of Americans to exercise their faith in peaceful assemblies.

In Nevada, casinos were being limited to 50% capacity while churches were limited to 50 people. In New York, a coalition bringing Orthodox Jewish groups and the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn together received a favorable 5-4 ruling from the Supreme Court reversing the selective closure of synagogues and churches by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In that opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “It is time — past time — to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.”

In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam is the pediatric neurologist-turned-politician who supported a third-trimester abortion proposal by asserting that, in the case of a child born with health deformities, he would deliver the child and discuss with the mother if the baby should live. This same man espoused his spiritual thoughts on the subject of public safety, saying, “We need to think about what is truly the most important thing. Is it the worship or the building? For me, God is wherever you are. You don’t have to sit in the church pew for God to hear your prayers.” Northam hides behind a somewhat accurate mask — God is omnipresent, or everywhere at all times — but the bait and switch comes with the hypocrisy seen by the experts who embrace limitations on churchgoers but demand freedom for those engaged in gambling, imbibing, or protesting.

In June, Dr. Rhea Boyd, a southern California pediatrician and community health advocate, gave an interview to Time magazine, stating, “Protest is a profound public health intervention.” The streets were filled with protests, vandalism, riots, and property destruction, all supposedly forms of “speech” protected under the First Amendment.

Dr. Boyd wasn’t alone. A letter penned and signed by more than 1,200 other medical and health colleagues proclaimed their concern “that protests around the United States could be shut down under the guise of coronavirus health concerns.” Some actions are taken under the guise of coronavirus health concerns? You don’t say. From behind one mask, experts declare that the exercise of some First Amendment rights jeopardize public health, and from behind another they proclaim that the same rights are a profound public health intervention.

There was a nine-point drop in the positive mental health of adults, according to a December 7 Gallup poll. Interestingly, this poll reported that the only cohort demonstrating an improvement in mental health from 2019 to 2020 were those who participated in weekly religious services. Those adults surveyed who did not engage in religious activity reported a 13% drop versus the four-point gain among the faithful.

But by all means, Northam says, you don’t need to go to church to worship.

As COVID surges and immunity builds in the U.S., Americans are struggling to balance their lives, their health, their livelihoods, and their Liberty. But the masked tragedy is that “experts” make arbitrary partisan policies that selectively interpret our rights. We mustn’t let them destroy the foundation of that which makes America unique and free.

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