Church parishioners are now being punished for gathering to express their faith. George Washington warned us about this.
On Sunday, November 29, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) blockaded nearly 100 parishioners at Church of God Restoration on the side of the highway. One person was fined and reportedly more penalties may follow. A week prior, the house of worship was fined $5,000 for violating the current public order declaring churches unable to open indoors or even for outdoor gatherings. Churches are technically only supposed to be open virtually via present Manitoba law.
According to CBN News, “Canada’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry suspended all in-person religious gatherings in an attempt to slow the spread.”
Minister Tobias Thissen claims he will be building a defense against the $1,296 worth of tickets he has received. “We’re proud to stand for religious freedom,” the minister told the CBC. Unfortunately for Thissen and other people of faith, the Canadian government clearly is not.
Many protesters were seen practically begging the RCMP to allow them entry into the church parking lot. They were yelling at the officers, plainly fed up with the tyrannical restrictions Manitoba residents have endured. Outside the Church of God Restoration, protesters sang hymns in freezing cold weather, spiritually coming together to stand against the injustice.
Winkler mayor Martin Harder, though, is completely oblivious to the ridiculousness of his mandate. “I am disappointed,” he said. “I think there are other ways in which to get our point across without having to gather in an illegal manner and try to provoke animosity between individual groups.
Winkler is missing the point. Those of faith are gathering because they submit to a higher god—not to the diktats rendering politicians and the state all-powerful.
Congregating “virtually,” as is mandated, is hardly a substitute for those who want to gather in person and practice their spiritual devotion. Similarly, churches in England have been restricted to what is known as the “rule of six,” permitting only gatherings of six or fewer people inside churches, making it near impossible for even the tiniest congregations to adequately gather.
One parishioner at Church of God—the man who was fined $1,296—was reportedly confident in remaining where he was regardless of the economic toll. This sort of bravery is admirable, though it cannot be expected of all given the heavy burden.
Nevertheless, his actions are a lesson in moral and civil disobedience. It is appalling the degree to which Canadian and U.S. governments have sought to strip freedoms from the individual man. This Thanksgiving, it was California Governor Gavin Newsom who enacted lockdown measures that mandated six feet between family members indoors, masks on while not eating, and a max of two hours’ time together. Newsom is also notorious for having shut down churches throughout the pandemic, while allowing Hollywood, cannabis dispensaries, and summer camps to keep running. Another stay-at-home order has just been issued in California.
COVID-19 has granted power-intoxicated bureaucrats across the world just what they have always desired: an unprecedented opportunity to centralize power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. This is an issue concerning practicality, but it’s also one of liberty.
In his 1796 Farewell Address, George Washington warned of the threat Americans are facing at this moment: “The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”
This public liberty is what we ought to be fighting for.
Gabe Kaminsky is a writer and student. He has been published in The Daily Wire, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, RealClearPolitics, Christian Broadcasting Network, The American Conservative, and elsewhere. Reach him at [email protected].