While California, New York, and other states have gone off the deep end on coronavirus restrictions, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) has been unusually quiet. That changed Thursday, when the radical leader broke his silence with a slew of new rules. And, like every other liberal leader, he didn't mind shaming churches in the process.
"This is a holy time for multiple faith traditions," Northam said at his press conference on Thursday. "But this year, 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 said. "Worship with a mask on is still worship. Worship outside or worship online is still worship."
Northam stopped short of the gathering orders that other liberals have watched the Supreme Court overturn. But he didn't mind shaming churchgoers all the same. "Quite frankly," he said, "we know that a lot of the spread is coming from this, because these individuals that are in a place of worship and contract the virus then go out to their place of work or to the grocery store or the convenience store or wherever and that's how this is spread." No one knows quite how Northam arrived at that conclusion since most of the contact tracing -- at least in overwhelmed cities like El Paso -- has led back to big box stores like Walmart or Costco. If anything, churches have been some of the safest indoor spaces, as pastors go to great lengths -- and expense -- to keep parishioners safe.
Justice Neil Gorsuch made reference to that in his opinion on Governor Andrew Cuomo's (D-N.Y.) unconstitutional restrictions. "No apparent reason exists why people may not gather, subject to identical restrictions, in churches or synagogues -- especially when religious institutions have made plain that they stand ready, able, and willing to follow all the safety precautions required of 'essential' businesses and perhaps more besides."
Liberals, who constantly accuse President Trump of making baseless claims, are doing exactly that here! Most churches who've opened in a reasonable manner haven't witnessed a single case -- let alone an outbreak. Maybe Northam, who wants to make infanticide a choice between "a woman and her doctor," ought to leave worship between a pastor and his parishioner.
While Northam resorts to public pressure, other states are stubbornly slapping churches with outrageous citations. In San Jose, Calvary Christian Fellowship was hit with more than $55,000 fines for meeting indoors. Earlier this week, Pastor Mike McClure was found in contempt of court for exercising his congregation's First Amendment rights. Still, he told "Washington Watch," he isn't budging. "I just think this is a time when we need to get together more than ever... They want us not to meet at all." But, he says, there's a higher law than man's law, and when the Bible tells us that we need to gather, that's what the body of Christ should do.
"They've been pushing against the church for a long time," he said, "and now they're inside the church telling us what we can and can't do [under] the First Amendment. So [we] have the right to redress... [They] have the right give me an answer to why we can't meet, because the virus is not killing everyone. And they have everybody scared to death." And yet, he went on, there are these double standards -- even in San Jose -- where people could riot, and that was fine. You could protest, and not hear a thing. So you know what, he said? I decided to "peacefully protest every week [by having services]."
In other states, like Colorado, pastors are having success by pushing back on one-sided restrictions. At High Plains Harvest Church, Senior Pastor Mark Hoteling won a major victory in Colorado. After he and others stood up and refused to be bullied, "the state is now back-peddling," he cheered. "They have lifted the capacity restrictions against churches, and we are now treated as any other essential business... Our intent all along," he said, "has been not to get an injunction to benefit High Plains Harvest Church, but all churches in Colorado." And, thanks to the court's order, that's exactly what happened.
Look, Hoteling urged, Christians need to keep pushing forward, because the reality is, "the state can do whatever it wants until it's stopped. And we're just a small rural church. But, you know, it's like David. I mean, we've got a small stone and a sling and we're going to keep swinging." And other churches -- all across the country -- should do the same.