Civil disobedience, COVID-19 and the church

As soon as the government started issuing “stay at home” orders in response to COVID-19, there was discussion in Christendom about how to respond to that and when we should respectfully disobey those orders in order to serve God. What steps are reasonable? How can we make this easier on ourselves?

One way to make this easier is to show cooperation with and goodwill to civil authorities when they make less onerous and more reasonable orders, so that when we must disobey we are not seen as cantankerous or scofflaws. Government officials are human beings who respond well to respectful disagreement, especially when there has been cooperation in the past.

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Revisiting excessive force and police militarization

Printed in the Herald-Times, August 17, 2020

To the Editor:

The Black Lives Matter organization is wrong on several things, but we should not be distracted from real concerns about policing in America. Too often, overwhelming force is used against non-violent crimes, especially in the “War on Drugs.”

As I said in my August 5, 2010 letter to the editor, we must severely curtail paramilitary raids on nonviolent drug users. These unnecessarily confrontational raids endanger and end lives. Even “non-lethal” tactics used in these raids are dangerous. As I said in my October 19, 2011 letter, flash bang grenades can and do kill people.

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More silly social media censorship

Is Facebook actively trying to interfere in the 2020 election? It is a legitimate question to ask, given the rather silly decision to remove a video of President Trump’s remarks about COVID-19. Mark Zuckerberg has said a lot of things about protecting free expression on Facebook. We knew this was always false, especially when Facebook banned Paul Joseph Watson in 2019, but now the bias is much more open.

Obviously no one is “immune” to the novel coronavirus. Trump exaggerated and used hyperbole in his remarks. He is who he is. But Trump is 100% right that children are, by far, the least vulnerable segment of the population to COVID19. I put up a post on Facebook with COVID-19 fatality statistics from the CDC. Statistically speaking, anyone under the age of 25 is at a dramatically lower risk of dying from the Communist Virus than older people. Where the risk of death spikes dramatically is people over the age of 65.

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Quick note on masks

I continue to be disappointed in the division within Christendom over face masks and whether we should obey government orders to wear masks. This ought to be a really simple solution, regarding how each side views and speaks to the other. Our orientation should look like this:

The pro-mask side: We think you are wrong in disobeying the mask order, as this is a reasonable order to follow and not a restriction on our ability to worship Jesus Christ. We should submit to the civil authority as commanded in Romans 13. However, we believe you came to this decision prayerfully and in good faith, and we respect your convictions on this issue.

The anti-mask side: We think you are wrong in obeying the mask order, as this is an unreasonable order to follow and is a hindrance to our ability to worship Jesus Christ. We should obey God rather than man as commanded in Acts 5:29. However, we believe you came to this decision prayerfully and in good faith, and we respect your convictions on this issue.

Establishing a direction for the conservative movement

It is time for us to be honest with ourselves: The conservative movement has no direction. We are mired in culture wars, current events and being anti-Leftist. We need to reclaim our direction. Much of this lack of direction is because Donald Trump is not an ideological conservative. His policies have been good, but Trump himself is not motivated by conservative philosophy.

Donald Trump has been a bulwark against the radical Left. Millions of conservatives voted for Trump to be that bulwark, and they will vote for him again as Joe Biden represents the same agenda as Hillary Clinton – but perhaps even more radical as the Democrats have embraced even more big government and “woke” identity politics. But we need something more than a bulwark.

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Looking back at the Hiroshima bombing

Last Thursday was the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb. Europe and Asia were devastated by World War II, but the reason the Hiroshima bomb stands out is because so much devastation was caused by a single mob as opposed to thousands of bombs dropped on a city.

Historical context is critical here. Japan was brutal and ruthless in the war, and the Rape of Nanking stands as one of the worst atrocities in human history. The city was destroyed, over 200,000 people were massacred (the death toll may have been as high as 300,000) and tens of thousands of women and girls were brutally raped by sadistic Japanese soldiers. That atrocity was only one example of Japan’s evil.

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Crossing the line into cynicism

Discernment is a good thing. Christians, especially, should be cultivating their discernment. We need to understand when people can have bad motives, and warn against what they are doing. We need to understand when something that seems harmless now can be exploited and abused later. The Apostle Paul did this in Scripture, writing against the false teachers of his day.

But we should avoid the temptation to be cynical. A friend once told me that cynicism is discernment without love. We must be aware of the temptation to be cynical, and understand when we are “discerning” without love. To be sure, we will often be falsely accused of cynicism when we are practicing righteous discernment, but the fact that we were discerning yesterday does not mean we are not cynical today.

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Wear a mask, but do not enforce it with guns

It astonishes me that at a time where we are discussing over-policing and even allocating resources away from police to other anti-crime initiatives we are actually directing the police to enforce a public mask mandate and threatening six months in jail for not wearing a mask in public.

Two weeks ago, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb proposed a statewide mandate that people wear masks in public places. Holcomb’s original proposal was to make not wearing a mask a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. Holcomb tried to ease worries about the excessive punishment by saying “mask police will not be patrolling Hoosier streets,” but any time you implement a draconian penalty like that there is a likelihood that it will be used. Surely Holcomb knows this.

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