Easter is supposed to be a time of great rejoicing for Christians, giving thanks for the Resurrection and the fact that Jesus died for our sins, allowing us entry into heaven. But for millions of Christians in the US, it felt more like a time for mourning. With churches around the country shuttered either by choice or by government decree, the mood in the US felt more like it did in Communist China. And for some Christians in California, the government reaction to their church services felt exactly like it did for persecuted Christians in China.
A California pastor in Merced County had his church’s Easter services broken up by about 40 heavily-armed sheriff’s deputies. They issued him a citation threatening him with six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 for violating a county health directive for holding the church service.
While the pastor asserted that the police action violated his First Amendment rights, the Sheriff disagreed. Sheriff Vernon H. Warnke stated: “You still have freedom of speech, you still have freedom of religion, you’re just gonna have to do it a different way. I’m not telling you you can’t worship, I’m just telling you where you can’t go to do it, and that’s based upon this health directive.”
Someone needs to give that Sheriff a remedial lesson in rights. Rights are absolute, they can’t be infringed upon, and if the government says that you have to exercise your rights in a different way or in a different place then you’re not really able to freely exercise them.
That Sheriff’s comments are no different than the comments you would expect from Chinese, East German, or Soviet Communist officials. “You still have the right to free speech, you just can’t criticize the government.” Or, “You still have freedom of religion, you just have to worship in churches approved by the Communist Party and follow leaders who have sworn allegiance to the Party.”
While it may seem unbelievable that any American could utter a statement so stupid and unconstitutional, and especially an elected law enforcement officer, it’s yet more evidence that most Americans today are communists in everything but name. They want a strong police state to keep them safe from criminals and a strong nanny state to keep them from losing money in stock markets and to support them when they lose their jobs or retire. For those true conservatives who still believe in individual responsibility, God-given human rights, and free markets, it’s going to be an uphill slog to convince the communists around us that the uncertainties and risks of freedom are more valuable than the promised safety and comfort of communism.