- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 25, 2020

Megachurch Pastor Brian Gibson, along with fellow preachers who’ve signed on to the PeaceablyGather.com campaign — a movement to fight government’s coronavirus-tied restrictions against religious worship — just sent a strong message Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s way that said, in essence, COVID-19 or no COVID-19, this church is staying open.

Finally. Churches of the nation, unite. If the coronavirus has taught America anything, it’s this: Government will attack religion — yes, even in First Amendment free America, government, when conditions are right, will go after the churches.

And that lesson has been followed rather somberly by another: Churches, if conditions are right, will comply and bow to government.

Gibson said no more.

In a statement, Gibson said: If protesters can gather in the streets, face mask or no face mask, social distancing or no social distancing, then worshippers of Christ can certainly do the same.

And then he made this interesting point: “Pastors care more about their parishioners than any government official ever could, and we know how to safely conduct our services.”

That’s the theme that’s gone missing from this whole COVID-19 government response, isn’t it? The people, more than the body called government, know best how to care for self, for family, for loved ones.

That’s the building blocks upon which America was founded; it’s why this nation birthed a system of bottom-up, not top-down, government. It’s why this nation is one where individual rights come from God, and government is there to secure those individual rights — not grant them or distribute them as pleased.

Churches, more than Walmart, more than Home Depot, more than any other business the government has exempted from closing during these coronavirus times — churches have the inarguable right to remain open.

Beshear doesn’t get that.

Just this week he called on churches to limit their gatherings, pause in-person services for a couple weeks, give up the in-building services and go online instead. His rationale? To help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“What we were discussing was a trend where someone goes on vacation, brings it back from the beach and then goes to church and we see a spread throughout that church,” Beshear said, WLKY reported.

He also rushed to add that “nobody is trying to close any church.”

We’re only “making recommendations,” he said.

Well and good. Good and well. But all along the coronavirus closure path, let’s remember: It’s recommendations that have led to the orders. America’s leaders have “recommended” the nation into complete economic and societal devastation.

But the bigger problem with Beshear’s “recommendation” is this, as captured in a just-posted headline by USA Today: “Protest updates: 76 protesters arrested in Louisville.”

Or, in this one, from The New York Times, from a week ago: “Protests Continue Daily in Louisville.”

Beshear’s response?

Well, here’s one: “Kentucky governor plans to provide 100-percent healthcare for black residents” affected by the coronavirus, WVLT reported in June. The story went on to say how Beshear also introduced a “new online training program for law enforcement officers, which will focus on implicit bias, use of force, civil rights law, community relationships and other topics.”

The message?

Church congregants — go home.

Protesters — stay. Stay, and we’ll pay your health care costs.

“Even as armed agitators are gathering in the streets of Louisville,” Gibson said, in a written statement, “Gov. Beshear is focused on churches.”

That’s been a theme that’s been repeated in spots across the nation, in communities coincidentally enough, where Democrats and liberal influences hold the positions of power.

It’s high time for the churches to fight back.

After all, in America, where religious liberties were the founding tenets, churches have more of a right to exist than governors’ offices. And church-goers certainly have more of a right to gather than angry Black Lives Matter protesters. The only reason government doesn’t see it that way is because one group is truly peaceful and the other, violent. In this nation, it’s become an unequal application of law, where the First Amendment prize goes to the boldest. 

Gibson, and scores of other pastors, are simply saying: Enough. And it’s high time they did.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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