Kansas Governor Extends Stay at Home Order During COVID-19



Cannot congregants pray to God directly without verbal guidance from an in-person pastor?







By Raoul Lowery Contreras

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1919 limitation of the 1st Amendment’s “free speech” is correct in that one cannot falsely yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Given that, an extension of that limitation is allowed that permits the government to limit church service attendance. That, due to a pandemic in which deadly infectious sickness can be transmitted from person to person in close contact.

Public health by American governments, federal, state and local is a primary governmental responsibility. Thus, when a public entity issues a neutral limitation to protect the population from infection, disease and death it is constitutional. In doing so it can rely on thousands of years of precedent, precedents set even before governments.

From the New Testament: Douay-Rheims Bible (Roman Catholic)--“And Jesus answering, said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

From the King James 2000 Bible: “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

From the Old Testament, first orally, then in written form by Jewish writers, we have:

Leviticus 13:45-46 “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone they must live outside the camp...Numbers 5:1-31 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body. 3 Send away male and female alike send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.”

The issue is why and how can governors or mayors issue edicts that church services are included in their events bans that normally include attendance of many people in the same venues if not outright bans then limitations to 10 or fewer people.

On the other hand, why are some governors excluding church services from their orders on public gatherings limitations? Florida and Texas exemplify Bible Belt exclusions.

These exclusions are rationalized as church services being “essential.”

To that rationalization, I say baloney.

The largest denomination in the U.S. is the Roman Catholic Church, and it’s not asking for exclusion in and around the USA and the world i.e. New Jersey, Singapore, or even the Vatican it seems only ultra-conservative Protestant churches are. Why?

Protestant megachurches are cash cows, that’s why. Are any of their pastors poor?

While Roman Catholic, Episcopalian and some Protestant churches (Islamic?) are using hi-tech live streaming of their services, some megachurches are insisting on being classified as “essential” gatherings exempt from crowd size limitations being imposed by several states. Why? Certainly the majority, the vast majority, of their congregants have electronic devices and computers on which they can watch a live-streamed service.

Cannot congregants pray to God directly without verbal guidance from an in-person pastor?

The Catholic Pope in Rome has issued a directive that if a priest isn’t available, a Catholic can confess his/her sins directly to God this totally contradicts centuries old rules.

The Catholic church is managing why can’t conservative Protestant megachurches live within the rules? Why do these pastors declare service limitations to congregant numbers as “unconstitutional” They aren’t.

The item that makes a governor or mayor’s limitation of church services during an emergency pandemic fight legal is “neutrality.” The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, April 6, declined to hear an appeal by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. that wanted the Court to hear its appeal of a district court decision permitting the Washington, D.C. public transit system to decline the archdiocese’s purchase of Christmas ads on buses two years ago. The district Court ruled that the ads were religious in nature and the transit district could deny the purchase of the ads as long as it denied all religious ads that were not general ads e.g. Have you prayed for peace today?

As long as the denial applied to all such ads, the denial was legal and didn’t violate constitutional guarantees by the 1st Amendment’s religious freedom and free exercise of religion clause of the amendment. The denial was neutral.

In the church service limitation, if the limitation applied only to religious and/or church services, the orders would not be neutral, thus, they would be unconstitutional.

The orders, however, apply to schools, conventions, bars, restaurants, church services, sports activities and games, etcetera thus, they are neutral and legal.

Again, why the protests by pastors?

If a Roman Catholic can work around centuries old rules about confessing sins to a priest and confess directly to God as suggested by the Pope, why can’t Protestant pastors live stream their sermons to congregants or anyone like Catholics and Episcopalians are doing?

They could, but then they couldn’t pass “collection plates” for weekly life-blood mega-cash donations.

Contreras is the author of THE MEXICAN BORDER: WAR, IMMIGRATION AND A TRILLION DOLLARS IN TRADE, and, he is the host of the coming podcast THE CONTRERAS REPORT - BUSINESS MEXICO he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate