IN a disciplined & rare moment of political commentary contrasting normally conspicuous absence, Hillsong leader Brian Houston has suggested church COVID restrictions are approaching “discrimination”.
In a series of tweets he observed:
“It’s so interesting that the NSW government are about to allow 300 people to attend an indoor wedding, and things are being relaxed for the hospitality industry, but still no changes for churches.
We have a building with space for 4,000 people yet can only have 100 in there. The reason given is, “Church people know each other (are too friendly).
Do you think people are not friendly at weddings? It’s getting to the point where it is discrimination.”
He concluded by calling for church leaders to unite and take a stand, affirming a shared commitment to keeping people safe, but questioning the Berejiklian government’s seeming unwillingness to even consider partial restoration of natural freedoms of worship and assembly.
There’s a multitude of anti-religious bigots with barrows full of willfully ignorant intolerance for Brian Houston in particular and Hillsong in general. They’re not dissimilar to blow flies with the unfortunate bonus of being able to produce their own steady stream of manure to create a buzz. They come out in swarms whenever the high profile, mega-popular Christian church trends on Twitter.
But the mostly-Christophobic reactions aside, the point many are making now in many states with similarly inexplicable anti-church restrictions is thousands of people are allowed to gather at sporting events & shopping centres, hundreds on public transport and at restaurants, but there’s no relief in sight for churches.
Did government grant the freedom to worship? Did government benevolently reach down from heaven and grant the mortals who pay their wages the freedom to assemble, speak their mind, earn a living and move about the country where they were born.
None of these were originally granted by government; they are the sovereign domain of our Creator. Government has no more objectively valid authority over the freedom to assemble and worship than you do over your neighbour’s long grass. Freedom doesn’t come from government, and pulpits around the nation should have been preaching since day one of all COVID restrictions that government doesn’t have any ranking authority to take it away.
Arguments about the severity (or lack thereof) of the Wuhan Flu indirectly legitimise the claim that there might be a case where the government can transgress God-given freedom. Of course there may be some exceptions to the inviolability of natural freedom, but short of an actually declared war (against a foreign nation, not a virus) they are few and far between. The government-appointed, unelected ‘experts’ — with opaque ‘modeling’ and secret ‘science’ they’re not confident enough in to allow scrutiny of — may stretch definitions of any granted exception to natural freedoms.
First they will comfort us that the restrictions are minimal and the goal achievable, like “reduced numbers” while “flattening the curve”. But as surely as absolute power corrupts absolutely, these unaccountable bureaucrats will incrementally ratchet down the freedom and ratchet up the goals, as the population is cowed into submission by Stalinesque reporting of enemies of the propagandised public good.
Freedoms are not conditional upon responsible handling. We don’t have to earn our freedom by doing the right thing according to some stuffed shirt. It’s ours already, fraudulently violated by government. It was not so in Eden’s garden, and for government to infantilise citizens with restrictions claimed to protect us from ourselves is paternalism not even God felt appropriate. Of course we advocate wisdom and sensible precautions, but our assurances and even cooperation are not a qualification for freedom. Freedom was always ours to do with as we please and government’s illegitimate regulations and directives as insulting as they are oppressive.
And this is where so many pulpits, along with the press, have somewhat failed the people they serve in their silence about the abuses of government authority, if they even comprehended the gravity of the fraud in the first place.
It is well and good to pray for those in authority, but such a proper directive cannot mean a blank cheque for tyranny which so utterly violates the God-ordained boundaries of government authority. God no more gave democracies or dictatorships authority to deprive humans of natural freedoms than He did to undefine the holy sacrament of marriage.
It is not the pulpit’s job to prop up bad policy affecting issues clearly expounded in Scripture with either affirmation or acquiescent silence. It is, however, the pulpit’s job to expound the nature of the various authorities, freedoms and civic responsibilities God has ordained. It is the pulpit’s job to provide the nation with a conscience, and in a pluralistic, inclusive, liberal democracy such as proliferates the West, to multiply that voice in its many voting members. As Dr Michael Youssef has said:
“As goes the pulpit, so goes the pew. As goes the pew, so goes the nation.”
It is past time Church leaders unite to take a stand. Huge applause to those Church leaders like Brian Houston & Glenn Davies who are awaking us from the Western prosperity-induced coma of political complacency, and speaking out against oppression.
If there’s anything every society will always need (and especially more so during hard times) it’s the Church — in whatever local expression she may prefer at her absolute discretion — the charity, comfort and counsel of those whose highest motivation is love of neighbour.
I met with Minister Brad Hazzard yesterday. I assured him of our prayers as we all work together to stop COVID-19. We spoke about inconsistencies in current rules and he assured me that an announcement tomorrow will help churches better serve our communities. #Covidsafe #COVIDnsw— Archbp Glenn Davies (@abpdavies) October 19, 2020
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Dave Pellowe is a Christian writer & commentator, founder of The Good Sauce, convener of the annual Australian Church And State Summit and host of Good Sauce's weekly The Church And State Show, also syndicated on ADH TV. Since 2016 Dave has undertaken the mission of arming Christians to influence culture through events from Perth to Auckland, videos, podcasts and articles published in multiple journals across Australia and New Zealand. [more]