It has now been eighteen days since the murdering, totalitarian, tyrannical, autocratic “governor” of California outlawed most elements of worship, and forms of public worship, for Christians and Jews in much of that once-great State.
It is more than just “health” concerns, more than just “micromanagement” – the actions taken by the dictator are a direct attack on the religious freedom of Californians and anyone who happens to be there.
On the first of July, the thug (Newsom) had the state health authorities issue a dictat – a decree, a proclamation, an “executive order” that banned certain activities and practices for religious meetings. This was not actually published in final form until almost a week later, on 6 July 2020. You can read the document here. The language is very inclusive, worded softly, but the iron fist is clear.
On 13 July, 2020, Newsom issued yet another order governing indoor operations. Under this most recent order, worship services, together with protests, fitness centers, malls, offices for non-essential actors and personal care services are permitted to remain open in only a few counties, and singing and chanting is only banned in worship services. Such activities are still permissible for all other indoor activities and many outdoor activities, including protests.
The orders are clear: Failure to comply “constitutes an imminent threat to public health and menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.”
In essence, the State of California has made it illegal to:
a. Sing and chant in worship.
b. Perform certain actions which involve touching other people, such as traditional Roman Catholic Eucharist (placing the wafer on the tongue, sipping from the chalice), laying on of hands, anointing with oil, and greetings with hugs or kisses or handshakes.
c. Carrying out acts of worship in a traditional manner, such as “passing the plate” (or basket) for collecting the contribution, sharing a common, single cup for communion, breaking of bread, and other acts.
d. Have more than 25% of the capacity of a house of worship, OR more than 100 people, assembled: even in those counties (see map here) where ANY indoor worship is allowed: most of the State’s population is PROHIBITED from worshiping indoors. (The language is bizarre: “Shut down the … activities unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up.”)
e. Funerals and weddings and other “cultural ceremonies” are “shut down.”
Many other matters are not “mandatory” but strongly urged, such as limiting the length of assemblies, not holding certain gatherings, assembling at different times or different days, and many other such things that change worship – including many, many other matters which are considered by religious groups to be required by holy commandment. In other words, in the eyes of many people who are members of these congregations, the State is ordering them to sin. To violate their conscience.
The reaction has been very telling:
- A few people, both in churches and in some forms of media, have “reacted badly” by openly and loudly speaking out against it, promising defiance, and in some cases (slowly, in my opinion) filed legal actions against the State.
- Apparently, a large number of people are simply obeying Newsom and his goons, and have ceased doing anything which is not expressly permitted. Of course, many groups have simply given up any sort of worship assembly or study or gatherings (and have done so since March).
- At the same time, apparently many people – many churches and synogogues (and I assume, Muslim congregations) – have simply ignored the orders, willing to accept the risks of both disease and the might of the State and local authorities.
It is especially galling (though not surprising) that such measures are NOT applied to, or demanded of such things as protests – whether Black Lives Matter or AntiFa or any other sort. Nor are such strict actions required or recommended for other daily activities (those still allowed at all, of course). Stores do not have a 100-person limit, even though they are limited in capacity to 25%. Singing is not prohibited in other venues.
Clearly, the imperial, tyrannical attitude of Newsom (and without doubt, much of the legislature and the administration of the State) has determined that worship and religious assemblies are not essential activities. That freedom of religion is no longer an essential right of Californians, even while freedom of speech and petition (exemplified) IS an essential right.
I cannot but agree with the hundreds who point out that this is an attack on religion using the excuse of public health and safety.
And I see no reason NOT to expect the State of California, and its “woke” rulers and supporters, to stop here. In New York City, the mayor has already threatened Jewish synagogues with permanent closure if they do not obey. In Chicago, the police have threatened the demolition of buildings of religious groups which continue to assemble for worship.
The effort, now several months old, of the FedGov (Department of Justice) to act against such tyranny has gone nowhere. The police, the local government officials, even the various State’s National and State Guards, have failed to demonstrate their allegiance to the Federal and State Constitutions – and those documents’ protection of sacred human rights. The courts have failed to act – and indeed, have upheld these totalitarian enactments – ILLEGAL actions by local and State government.
I think the conclusion is obvious. There is no course left but rebellion. Non-violent if possible, but violent to the extent necessary for self-defense and the defense of others if needed. What option is there?
(Let me add – this is REBELLION and NOT revolution. These thugs, these tyrants, are actually counter-revolutionary: they are attempting to reverse the success of the American Revolution and War of Independence by removing all restraints on government, Pitiful though they were even before this.)