The COVID Bait and Snitch

The COVID Bait and Snitch

The COVID Bait and Snitch

December 4, 2020

In the middle of a global pandemic, you'd think health officials would have better things to do than mask checks at empty churches. Well, think again, says Rev. Dr. Dennis Jackman. It didn't matter that he was working in his office alone. The last time he answered the door of the church without his face covered, it almost cost him $5,000. Do it again, the government told him, and they'd shut down his church -- indefinitely.

"I wasn't expecting anyone," Pastor Jackman explained. If anything, he thought it might be someone who needed help from the food pantry. Instead, it was someone with the health department following up on a tip from the virus hotline. Testily, the man told Jackman to step back six feet and then chastised him for not wearing a mask. Dutifully, Jackman went back to his office and fetched one. The church had been reported, he was told when he got back, by an anonymous source. To this day, Jackman shook his head, he has no idea what the actual complaint was. They have in-person services, yes. But they respect Maryland's coronavirus guidelines -- encouraging distancing and sanitizing. Even in 32 degree weather, he said on "Washington Watch," he's still held their 9:00 a.m. services outside so people can come in their cars and listen.

Even that wasn't good enough for Maryland's despots, who told Jackman that they'd be back -- and for any violations, there'd be consequences. "It's almost like we're in Nazi Germany in 1938," the pastor said, "where you have anonymous people making anonymous charges." In fact, it's gotten so bad that the county is hiring more people to follow up on the reports. And it's not just Maryland that's started a government-funded snitch line. There are plenty of other states turning neighbors into government informants with absolutely no way to screen phony or politically-motivated tattling.

Imagine what it'll be like under Joe Biden, who just announced that he wants a 100-day mask mandate on government property the minute he's sworn into office! "Just 100 [days]," the Democrat told CNN. "Not forever." And what if Americans violate that order? Will there be jail time? Citations? Thousands of dollars in fines? For a man who keeps saying he'll "follow the science," NRO's Jim Geraghty points out, it's incredible that they'd impose a nationwide mandate with a completely arbitrary end date. "It's amazing how 'the science' decided that the date masks will no longer be needed perfectly aligns with his symbolic 100th day in office. What a coincidence!"

But then, this was never about the science. This is about the government exercising unconstitutional power over a country of free people. And frankly, while there are maybe some well-intentioned mask zealots who are not considering the unintended consequences of these draconian policies, there are others who are not well-intentioned. For them this is about driving a Marxist agenda -- and seizing a moment of international panic to do it. Most people are unsuspecting enough to go along with it. They trust that what liberals are advocating will keep them safe. They don't understand the long-term consequences of these decisions, which will ultimately destroy individual and religious liberties.

There's a Bill of Rights, author Larry Taunton reminded listeners on Washington Watch this week, that says we have the right to assemble. We have the right to worship. These overbearing rules and tattle-tale hotlines are the stuff of totalitarian regimes. It creates a society, Larry explained, where people live in fear -- fear of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing. People start to feel overwhelmed by the "omnipresence of government," he points out. "But another it does is divides people... and protect[s] the government from the people." This is exactly what they did in the Soviet Union.

Fortunately, Donald Trump gave Americans three incredibly powerful weapons to fight this agenda -- and they're all sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court. Just this week, the justices followed up their New York City ruling with another smackdown of one-sided COVID restrictions -- this time in California. Like Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), Governor Gavin Newsom (D) got a wake-up call about the administration's attack on local churches. Up until that point, he'd banned "all in-person worship for 99.1 percent of Californians," Liberty Counsel attorneys argued, despite the fact that "warehouses, big box centers, shopping malls, liquors stores, family entertainment... gyms, fitness centers, and museums" have no limits. Thursday's order overturns the decisions against California churches and tells judges to take another look in light of the case in Brooklyn.

"This is the second big win for religious adherents from the Supreme Court since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the bench," FRC legal expert Katherine Beck Johnson celebrated. "The coronavirus has tested the strength of our Constitution, and it's refreshing to see the Supreme Court recognize the importance of the First Amendment. The Free Exercise Clause is a fundamental right that must be treated equally to other rights -- even in, and especially during, trying times."

We -- not the government, not liberal leaders, not even public health officials -- should be the custodians of our well-being. Life has risks, and we need to take precautions, but that's no excuse to intimidate people and shut down churches. If 150 people can keep packing out planes, elbow to elbow for hours, then there's no reason we can't sit in a pew on Sunday morning. Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom. Flying on a plane isn't.

Listen to the entire program here.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

NASDAQ Trades in Extremism

December 4, 2020

According to NASDAQ, what happens in the bedroom now matters in the board room! In a bombshell announcement, the stock exchange is threatening to drop companies who don't meet certain LGBT, race, and gender quotas on their boards of directors. It's the latest shoe to drop in the march to trample the free market and replace it with woke activism. And if Joe Biden is president, they'll have their best shot at success yet.

Among their demands, the exchange wants to require companies to have "at least one woman on their boards, in addition to a director who is a racial minority -- or one who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer." Corporations that don't meet the standard would have to justify their decision persuasively enough to stay on the registry. Regardless, everyone would have to hire at least one "diversity director" within the first two years.

NASDAQ's spokesperson says the idea came from a recent survey, where it discovered that three-quarters of its companies weren't "diverse" enough. Most boards are "white and male." "Around 80 or 90 percent of companies had at least one female director, but only about a quarter had a second one who would meet the diversity requirements, a person familiar with the review said, adding that it was difficult to measure because of inconsistencies in the way companies report such data."

Conservatives, who've seen radical political correctness creep into corporate America for years, warned that this would only be the beginning. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, sued California this year over a state law mandating greater boardroom diversity. "This is NASDAQ getting into woke ideology, and it's outside the law." No one should be able to dictate to American CEOs how to run their companies. That's not how capitalism works. Nor can anyone -- including NASDAQ -- force people to disclose their sexual preferences.

Apart from the obvious constitutional problems, ordering employers to appoint LGBT-identifying board members is no easy task for 3,000 companies. Although it seems like there's a gay, lesbian, or transgender-identifying character on every channel or commercial these days, the actual reality is far different. This population, which seems to dominate political and cultural conversations, is actually quite small. In 2018, Gallup's surveys found that LGBT-identifying adults made up less than five percent of the country. Finding thousands of board members with the right qualifications and sex lives would be a tall task for a lot of CEOs. Of course, those pushing this agenda at NASDAQ are not really concerned about legitimate qualifications.

Not that a Joe Biden administration wouldn't make them try. Under a liberal SEC chairman -- who would have to approve this requirement before it went into effect -- a diversity mandate would almost certainly be met with enthusiasm. "[Current chair] Jay Clayton is not going to touch this on his way out the door," one corporate lawyer told the New York Post. "Why would he? There will be questions of constitutionality from the folks who don't want this."

On the other hand, experts say, if Biden presses the issue (and his outspoken support for this kind of extremism suggests he would), the controversial policy could go into effect within months. And the pressure, as NASDAQ made quite clear, would ramp up for others to do the same. "We would welcome the opportunity for our peers to follow suit and see this as a good step forward for all of us," an exchange spokesperson told the Post. "This is a step forward, but we would welcome the opportunity for our peers to take an active role here as well."

That's a chilling thought in corporate America, where so much autonomy has already been crushed in the name of political correctness. Markets operate in losses and gains. If NASDAQ's capitulation to woke ideology succeeds, look for the financial profits of shareholders to be exchanged for the cultural profits of the Left.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

New 'Woke' Denomination is a Warning Sign to Christians

December 4, 2020

Over the weekend, the formation of a new Methodist denomination was announced during an online worship service hosted by former and current Methodist church leaders. According to organizers, the Liberation Methodist Connexion (LMX), as the group will be called, is a socially progressive denomination that will reimage what it means to follow Jesus. But even a cursory review of the new denomination reveals nothing close to orthodox Christianity.

According to LMX leaders, fidelity to Scripture or Christian theology is not a priority for the new denomination. In fact, as one leader explained, "There are no doctrinal litmus tests" for joining the movement. "We seek not answers that lead to correct doctrines as to why we suffer. We seek correct actions, correct praxis, where God sustains us during the unanswerable questions," argued Rev. Althea Spencer-Miller, another LMX leader.

The creation of the new Methodist denomination is not surprising. At the beginning of the year, representatives of the United Methodist Church tentatively agreed to a proposal to split the nation's second largest Protestant denomination over "fundamental differences" regarding doctrinal differences. In recent years, the denomination had reached an impasse on questions related to the morality of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the ordination of clergy who identify as gay.

The anticipated vote to split the denomination was set to take place at the 2020 General Conference in May. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the vote has been delayed until fall of 2021. In terms of the details of the proposal, progressives within the United Methodist Church will give a newly formed traditionalist Methodist denomination $25 million. Local churches that choose to affiliate with the traditionalist denomination may retain their assets including church buildings and properties. Moreover, conservative clergy may retain their pensions. These concessions were possible because conservatives maintain a governing majority within United Methodism despite the fact that American Methodist leadership is liberal.

However, as evidenced by this weekend's developments, the extended wait time proved too long for some theologically liberal Methodists who see the new denomination as a better fit for their progressive beliefs. "The timeline of the Holy Spirit is driving our decision to launch the LMX at this moment, and we are following her call," explained Spencer-Mill, while using female pronouns to refer to God.

A cursory overview of the LMX website reveals that the denomination will resemble nothing like the movement started by John and Charles Wesley in the 18th century where the importance of the new birth, works of piety, and missions were emphasized. Instead, leaders of the new group promise to journey toward a "new way of being followers of Christ" which include refuting the "powers, principalities, and privileges" they believe have defined Methodism. These include a litany of isms including colonialism, sexism, clericalism, ableism, ageism, transphobia, and "heteronormativity."

While liberals within Methodism have been pushing for the inclusion of more LGBT affirming stances in recent years, the LMX represents a dramatic break from historic Methodist doctrine. But, and to their credit, the leaders of the LMX -- who proudly list their preferred pronouns on their website -- admit, "LMX theology is not written in stone." But while their theology isn't written in stone (or anywhere that I can find), the purpose behind the group is clear: providing ecclesiastical cover for unorthodox views on marriage and sexuality.

Even though the LMX is clearly out of the mainstream of Methodism, its emergence before the expected denominational split is noteworthy. But it is also cautionary. As Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and Methodist leader, recently explained, United Methodism "was from the start an experiment in theological pluralism." This meant that over the years an increasingly wide range of theological views was tolerated within the denomination. Eventually, this meant that heterodox views could coexist with orthodoxy without causing too much of a stir. However, as the broader culture drifted further left on issues such as marriage and human sexuality, the strain between conservatives and liberals over these issues became too much. Thus, in retrospect, the splintering of Methodism over biblical interpretation was predictable. Without clear theological guardrails in place, there was nothing to stop those with unbiblical views from entering the denomination's ranks and no meaningful way to expel them.

Thus, while the LMX will likely remain a small group of former United Methodists and others, it stands as a cautionary tale for churches and denominations around the country. In an age when doctrine is not taken seriously, Christians, for the sake of faithfulness, must insist on sound doctrine and fidelity to God's Word.