Bill of What?...
One of the scary side-effects of the recent pandemic, whether intended or unintended, has been the arbitrary disregard of the Bill of Rights. As you know, the Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the Constitution and were specifically added to the original document in 1789 for the express purpose of protecting individual rights from the possibility of government abuse. Tragically these constitutional rights have been clearly ignored in recent weeks as decisions made by governors, mayors, councils, judges and unelected experts have exceeded their constitutional authority and restricted the very rights that guarantee the freedoms that so many have died to preserve. For example, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy when asked by what authority did he nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing an order to close places of worship, responded, “That’s above my pay grade… I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this.” Are you kidding? The Constitution is above a governor’s pay grade? Really? Does anyone still know “Civics”? That statement represents a slippery slope for future crises.
Now, before you assume the wrong thing, let me state clearly what I am not saying. I am not saying that the pandemic isn’t serious, it is. I am not saying that we should disregard serious action, we shouldn’t. And I am not saying that we should ignore social implications, nor am I advocating for unrestrained license for individuals to disregard the safety of others. As a pastor, we have taken this seriously, we have sheltered-in as requested. Further, we have instituted strict protocols to try and minimize and prevent the potential Covid-19 spread on our campus. Our reopening has begun and will involve a detailed process over time. But here is what I am saying… there is a fine line between freedom and tyranny. This is the very reason our founders determined to include the Bill Rights in the first place; they were to protect and prevent arbitrary and subjective applications of freedoms. My fear is not so much the restrictions that Covid-19 has produced. My fear is that an unconstitutional precedent has been set, and in the future, could be invoked against organizations, corporations and churches by future leaders with agendas that are sinister and politically motivated. In fact, the Bible speaks of a day when a world leader/leaders will do that very thing. With that in mind, on this Memorial Day weekend, let’s remember the countless men and women who have died to “Defend and Protect” the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
Perhaps you recall Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, given in 1863 to dedicate a portion of that battlefield as a cemetery for the Civil War dead. It starts with: “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The entire speech, from beginning to end, is only 272 words long. Lincoln delivered the message in a mere two minutes.
Lincoln, however, wasn’t the only speaker that day. A man named Edward Everett, who was considered to be one of the great orators of his day, spoke before Lincoln and gave an address that lasted two hours. It contained over fourteen thousand words. It began like this: “Standing beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghanies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet. . . ”
Here we are over 100 years later, which of those speeches is familiar to most people? Lincoln’s, of course. Why? Because with just a few words Lincoln captured the great significance of the moment. It was not the actions of the living that made Gettysburg cemetery sacred ground, it was instead the actions of those who had given their lives to defend it. In like manner Memorial Day reminds us of the many who have given their lives to defend our freedoms. May we never forget the lives or the liberties!
And remember God is always trying to take you someplace new. I love being your Pastor.
For God’s Glory Alone,