Doubling down on the idiocy I hope this is starting to crystalize for you. I love my pastor but I do not want him making decisions about whether the church should meet during an international pandemic that has killed over 82,000 people already. Knowing him as well as I do, I sincerely doubt he would want to decide how to best protect the flock from a deadly virus. Do you know why? Because he is smart and not arrogant. If I want a passage exegeted or to understand the spiritual dimension of a thing, he is the first on my list to go to. Determining if hand sanitizer and rubber gloves will prevent someone from contracting a deadly disease? Yeah that's not in his wheelhouse. Nor is it in mine and it certainly is not in Rodney Howard-Browne's. Once again, it is not that the body of Christ is non-essential. It is that the public gathering of 500 people is not.
"The above says nothing about the constitutional rights of churches under the First Amendment and the statutory rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. These rights do not evaporate in a time of crisis. Are we willing to allow one person, whether state or local, to have the unchecked discretion to write a church into or out of existence by one word--the word "essential"? Such authority is extraordinary and runs counter to American history." -- Liberty Counsel
The Liberty Counsel is clueless. This has already been decided at the turn of the 20th century by the Supreme Court. In 1905, Jacobson vs Massachusetts decided that the state can indeed shut down public gatherings for the public good as long as they do not discriminate in doing so. In other words, if the Sherriff's order said Christian churches only had to shut down -- THAT would violate the constitution. Think about the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" analogy. Free speech is in the first amendment and a guaranteed right but it still can be limited by the state. The rest of the bluster here is simply ridiculous. The state did not write River Church "out of existence"; they simply said they could not meet for public health reasons. The hyperbole here indicates how low the Liberty Counsel is willing to stoop in their inherent dishonesty.
"The last question is one for the church: "Is the ministry of the church so essential that the community groans in its absence?" If any church is not that essential, then maybe that church needs to ponder what changes should be made in order to be the essential lighthouse and place of refuge that God desires." -- Liberty Counsel
How noble. It of course would hold more water of their client did not preach that you should get drunk in the spirit and roll around on the ground laughing uncontrollably. God does not desire the River Church or its heretic pastor. No church should consider itself so important that it can violate local law, which in turn violates the key verses. Now in all honesty, I hate quoting these verses because they are so often misused. The irony is that they are often misused by the Liberty Counsel's of the world. The NAR loves quoting Romans 13 when it suits their cause, such as defending the current administration from any proper oversight or criticism. How quickly they abandon it however to prop up Rodney Howard-Browne.
The reality is that this is the battle the NAR loves. They love instilling an aggrieved spirit into the apostate church. To make them feel as they are the victim and the state is the perpetrator, instead of a selfish pastor who does not care about his flock. Beloved, WE are the church. Not some building in Tampa Bay that will rot and crumble like everything else on this mortal coil. I love public worship as much as anyone but right now there is a virus killing tens of thousands of people and if people with more expertise in these areas says to stay home for now, I will listen. Faith is not the absence of reason. God requires wisdom as well. Today's modern mega church services, with their purpose driven pastors and seeker friendly guidelines are an abomination before God. Rodney Howard-Browne held service in violation of the law and preached about government conspiracy theories that make the "holograms were used at the World Trade Center" believers blush. Now he has hired the legal arm of the NAR to not only fight the charges but to put lipstick on a pig. They want you as Christians to feel aggrieved. They want you to feel persecuted. All because one man thought he was more important than the law. He is not.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- April 8, 2020