The deadly cost of religious liberty in America is finally being manifest, and it is a cost many evangelicals believe the public must pay.
No small number of evangelical clergy are now claiming their religious freedom is essential and supersedes states’ “stay-at-home” orders meant to halt coronavirus transmission. Predictably, several Republican governors agree and claim that in-person church services are just as essential as acquiring life-sustaining food and medical care. It is a novel cause célèbre– even for evangelical fanatics.
That kind of religious freedom is not only exacerbating the spread of the deadly COVID-19, it demonstrates that “the faithful” are not pro-life in any sense whatsoever. Oh it is true that evangelicals, Republicans, and their Catholic puppet-masters are pro-zygote, but they are not pro-life. If they were pro-life, then they would not only desist from endangering the lives of their evangelical fellows and families, they would avoid spreading a virulent plague to the people in their communities.
Over the course of the past couple of decades the Constitution’s guarantee of “religious freedom” has taken on a meaning far beyond what the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s framers intended; now it poses a serious threat to Americans’ lives.
Despite warnings from health experts and most government officials to abstain from community gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, far too many evangelicals claim their “religious freedom” exempts them from any mitigation efforts. In fact, no small number of states’ governors exempted churches from having to comply with “stay at home” directives because those in-person services are considered “essential.” They are also considered protected under the religious clauses in the 1st Amendment regardless the threat to human life.
The so-called “religious clauses” in the Constitution’s First Amendment are not as broad in scope as religious right control freaks and Republicans contend; they were never intended to provide the fanatical faithful with authority over the government or other Americans. That is particularly true regarding matters of life and death of innocent civilians.
Few sane Americans would dispute the fact that the religious right and their Republican facilitators have used the 1st Amendment’s religious clauses as a cudgel to deprive other Americans of their constitutionally-protected freedoms, with particular emphasis on women and the LGBTQ community. The religious right, Republicans, and conservatives on the Supreme Court have embraced a vile interpretation of religious liberty that now threatens other Americans’ lives.
It is relatively well-reported that evangelical clergy are boasting that regardless of their respective states’ stay-at-home and social distancing orders, they are Hell-bent on defying medical experts, and common sense, to maliciously endanger human life. One cannot help but believe the defiant clergy are relishing their new-found celebrity, because celebrity brings in big money and greater influence over Republicans running America.
There is scant reporting on exactly how many defiant evangelicals are deliberate vectors for the novel coronavirus, especially in Republican religious states, but there is one prime example of precisely why defying stay-at-home rules for in-person church services recklessly endangers innocent civilians’ lives.
In California, the first state to issue stay-at-home orders, seventy-plus defiant “worshipers” from one congregation tested positive for COVID-19. There is no telling how many thousands of people they infected in their respective communities.
As reported here, the 3,000 member church in a Sacramento suburb reported that 71 members who live in Sacramento County have tested positive, and even more members who live in surrounding counties also have confirmed cases. Those cases include the church’s senior pastor who is hospitalized with the virus. Two other pastors were described as “critically ill” by another pastor who joined the senior pastor in a video message to the faithful. The pastor said:
“We have many different people in our church, they are ill, so we need to pray. We need to intervene. God will hear us, and he will heal us.”
No, god is not going to heal you any more than evangelicals and clergy who claim that because they are “washed in Jesus’ blood,” they cannot be infected or die. That was the consensus belief of an Ohio congregation according to a video of a news reporter interviewing congregants and the cult’s pastor. The pastor claimed positively that no-one in his congregation was infected because as the pastor, he would know – no need for testing.
Now, as one expected, several evangelical leaders and their onward Christian soldiers in the Republican movement are flexing their theocratic muscle to protect the faithful regardless the threat to the general population.
After a defiant pastor in Lodi California was greeted by police and blocked from entering the building because the landlord changed the locks to prevent fanatics from spreading the virus, all Hell broke loose and Christian lawyers were summoned. In what is certain be a recurring scenario nation wide, the defiant church “retained a lawyer from the conservative Christian National Center for Law & Policy” to announce the church would continue defying the rules now and in the future.
The church’s lawyer “sent a six-page cease-and-desist letter to the City of Lodi claiming the police had disrupted a peaceful and lawful worship service.” The conservative Christian law firm told the city and its law enforcement officers to respect the church’s religious freedom because the in-person services would not stop.
“The church intends to meet this Sunday, and all future Wednesdays and Sundays in the future.”
In another instance of deadly religious freedom, three preachers and a rabid anti-LGBTQ Republican activist filed a lawsuit over restrictions on in-person worship services. The four religious fanatics demand that the Texas Supreme Court strike down a local restriction on in-person religious gatherings because it violates the pastors’ religious liberty; they need to gather their parishioners together during a pandemic – likely to keep in-person donations rolling in.
In Kansas, the Republican legislature voted to revoke the Governor’s order restricting gatherings over 10 because, despite the threat of spreading the coronavirus, Republicans want “religious leaders to congregate freely on Easter Sunday.” The far-right Republican leader of the Kansas Senate claimed that by limiting the size of church gatherings, the Governor’s stay-at-home order was an attack on religious freedom.
It is noteworthy that evangelical clergy claim, despite the threat to human life, that since they have a command from their god, “there are no governing bodies that can tell us we cannot worship and gather freely.” What the idiot preachers conveniently ignore is that their biblical god also commands evangelicals to obey the government, and pay taxes.
It is remarkable, really, that a majority of religious groups are reluctantly adhering to mitigation efforts, despite the loss of their tax-free revenue. For dog’s sake, even most Catholic churches are showing a bit of Christian compassion during their most hallowed holiday season and following the rules.
It is abominable that evangelical clergy are willing to sacrifice their own congregants’ health, including the fanatic in Louisiana who said that if his parishioners “die after contracting COVID-19, it’s a worthy sacrifice for god and freedom;” and likely Trump. The preacher, Tony Spell said that “true Christians do not mind dying from the coronavirus;” especially in the name of religious freedom and opposition to a political ploy to “get Trump.”.
There is no doubt that governing officials weighed the need to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus against idiotic religious people’s opposition to common sense mitigation efforts. No sane human would ever expect the evangelical zealots to make what they would call a sacrifice during an effort to save living, breath human beings.
However, this is theocratic America and asking “religious people” to make any kind of sacrifice is considered criminal. According to the current twisted interpretation of “religious liberty,” all Americans are required to make personal liberty and financial sacrifices to benefit religious people, the wealthy clergy, and their lust to rule the nation under the guise of “religious liberty;” religious liberty that is killing innocent Americans.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.