The Big Brother War on Churches

Who says there is no assault on religious freedom?

Can the State tell churches who can attend worship services? This is NOT a rhetorical question. It is very real. Already we have various governments heading down this path, demanding that churches ban any and all people who have not got the jab. I recently wrote about how the NSW government is going down this very path: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/09/08/the-covid-untouchables/

So how is the Christian to think about all this? The wrong way to consider this matter is to run with unbiblical cliches and sloppy thinking. There is plenty of this out there, so let me look at some of these. You can already hear this mindless response from some: ‘Oh, but if you really love people, you will keep them uncontaminated from the Covid spreaders.’

That is a foolish remark for several reasons. First of all, getting the vaxx does NOT stop you from getting Covid or from spreading it. But for the Christian, more is at stake here. One can just imagine how this practice might have worked out two millennia ago: Do we really believe Jesus would have demanded that sick people stay away from him and others?

Just the opposite: Jesus deliberately went to the sick, the outcasts, the untouchables, the lepers, and so on. He healed them. He did not socially distance himself from the sick, nor did he wear a mask – if that had been an option back then. See more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/07/17/would-jesus-wear-a-face-mask/

Another related reason some believers will drag up to defend these things is that it is important to keep our churches a safe environment. As already mentioned, being vaccinated guarantees nothing in this regard, and it flies in the face of everything Jesus and the New Testament stand for.

We are told in Galatians 3:28 this: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” And guess what? There is no vaxxed and unvaxxed as well. It is ludicrous to think that it is somehow the loving and Christlike thing to do to deny people the fundamental right to worship the Living God – all because it might not be “safe”.

How is this religious segregation and discrimination something God would approve of? How is it any different than telling Blacks they cannot come into churches to worship the Lord? The church has always fought against such unjust and unfair discrimination and bigotry.

A third rather useless claim some Christians make is that we can just do Zoom church forever. ‘Church is not just a building’ they will glibly claim. Yes, the church is more than a building. But Christians are commanded to meet together (Hebrews 10:25). And that involves far more than sitting behind some computer screen or iPad.

Yes, for a very limited period things like Zoom church might be acceptable, but we have now had churches closed down or greatly restricted for much of the past 18 months. And as laws go through banning people from attending church without a yellow star sewn onto their clothing – I mean, without their vaccine passport – then that is all many folks will be left with.

But the New Testament idea of church is NOT about folks staying apart from one another perpetually. It is all about fellowship, body life, and close communion. Indeed, it is about taking communion together, hugging one another, supporting one another, and so on. And it also involves laying on hands and praying for others – including for their healing.

Just this morning I read again from Ezekiel 34. It speaks about the shepherds of Israel. Verses 2-4 says this:

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.

That bit about strengthening the weak, healing the sick, and binding up the injured certainly stood out. It is pretty hard to do most of that hiding behind a smart phone or laptop. Yes we can encourage one another via a phone call or a Skype meeting, but the intended way of doing church is for people to come together and corporately worship the One True God.

The newly drafted Moses Statement puts it this way:

God, who has all authority and gives limited authority to people, calls all people to worship. Worshipping God is the most important activity and privilege of human existence (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:1-11, 1 Peter 2:4-10, Revelation 7:9-12). God calls everyone everywhere to worship (Psalm 96). If we are going to keep God’s command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength,” He calls us to physically gather together to worship and warns us not to stop (Psalm 100, Hebrews 10:25). If we are going to love our neighbour as ourselves, we must place great value on their ability to gather for worship, as this is our neighbour’s greatest privilege and duty.

 

While God calls everyone everywhere to worship, He gives Christ’s church a clear and direct command to gather to worship Him. The public worship of God is essential to the church’s life. Local churches obey this command by physically gathering together. The Biblical word for “church” (occurring 111 times in the New Testament) literally means “assembly” and requires a physical meeting. Therefore, virtual meeting is not a substitute. caldronpool.com/mosesstatement/

I have written up this important document before, and it is well worth reading, signing, and sharing with others: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/09/05/are-you-with-moses-or-pharaoh/

Thankfully many other Christian watchmen are warning the church about these matters. Let me recommend a few terrific articles that have recently appeared on the issues of how Christians should think about vaxx passports in general and vaxx passports for churches in particular.

One is found on the always useful website Caldron Pool. It is called: “Five Reasons the Church Should Oppose A Vaccine Passport System”. The author’s closing words are these:

Vaccine Passports stand in opposition to the idea that the Church is an entity separate from the world, with Christ as her only head. Where there is to be no division in Christ, a Vaccination Passport system will introduce one. A Vaccination Passport system will violate man’s duty and privilege to worship God as well as God’s regulation of His own worship. For Christians to support Vaccination Passports is to set aside the entire Spiritual government of Christ over His church.

 

Lastly, it must be remembered what Christ Himself says about His people, those that He accounts as precious: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). caldronpool.com/five-reasons-the-church-should-oppose-a-vaccine-passport-system/

And the ever reliable Kurt Mahlburg has two pieces on this over at The Daily Declaration. The most recent one is this: “The Case for Vaccine Passports is Feeble and Fading”. blog.canberradeclaration.org.au/2021/09/07/against-vaccine-passports/

And an earlier piece of his, “5 Reasons Why Vaccine Passports are an Ethical Disaster” is found here: blog.canberradeclaration.org.au/2021/09/02/5-reasons-why-vaccine-passports-are-an-ethical-disaster/

If we cannot make a stand for religious freedom and the right to worship God, then we are in a very bad place indeed. As Kurt writes in his more recent article:

Through his life and teachings, Jesus made it clear that we are to give up our rights for the benefit of others. Theoretically, this could be applied to freely deciding to get vaccinated. But it certainly doesn’t work for vaccine mandates: Jesus didn’t teach us to demand that others give up their rights for us—which is precisely what proponents of vaccine passports are arguing….

 

Freedoms are a safeguard, not a luxury. Human liberties protect the weak by restraining the powerful. It is the defence of freedom that has long prevented tyrants from terrorising ordinary people. The worst abuses of history were only made possible when fundamental freedoms were cast aside.

 

If you shrug off freedoms in the name of ‘loving your neighbour’, know that the neighbours you have chosen to love are the world’s powerful. And it is the powerless who will eventually pay the price. Instead, be like Jesus and sacrifice your popularity to defend the freedoms of others.

 

By all means, get vaccinated if you will. But don’t force others to: that is a demand we should not make.

[1444 words]

28 Replies to “The Big Brother War on Churches”

  1. Well written, as always Bill.
    Our church has a mandate from the Lord to reach “the broken, the lonely, the hurting and the rejected.” That’s really everybody when you think about it.
    The vaccine passport asks us to smash the broken, isolate the lonely, smack the hurting and reject the rejected.
    Of all the tyrannical demands of the pandemic this is the most satanic.

  2. Thanks Bill, another factor playing into this is the nature of man.

    We have been defined as body, soul and spirit.
    As some have said, “We are a spirit, having a soul, living in a body.”
    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul”
    “May your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved..”
    We live in our bodies in a physical world of time, space, and the senses.
    We are to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

    A christian challenge has long been about worship, for it is easy to worship in body and soul and not recognise the Spirit.

    Now with the lockdowns we have been comforted with the thought that we may still worship in Spirit and Truth without the same participation of body or soul.
    In this we are robbed two ways, namely that those who struggle with the Spirit and Truth bit, are not being encouraged to enter that dimension, and secondly; the body and soul cannot be easily separated from worship without severe negative impact on worship.

    The similar things can be said about Christian fellowship. Christian fellowship is indeed of the mind, and of the soul, and we are spiritual brothers, but without the physical body participating our fellowship is severely damaged.

    The body of Christ should not be divided.
    It should not be divided member from member.
    Neither should it be divided from its essential parts, body from soul, body from spirit, soul from spirit.

    Just last night we had a discussion about protests and riots & including Romans 13 and sadly I was amazed how many were wanting to engage with our current situation through prayer and compliance only. Well the issue about vax passports and church may make a difference.

  3. You are quite right, I believe, both on the obvious Christian loving side of being physically together and encouraging one another, but also regarding carrying and transmitting the virus (basically from our nasal passages exactly as for the cold and flu virus and many others such as staphylococcus), despite being vaccinated so as to deal with the virus in our circulatory systems.
    From the legal and the state point of view, I gather that many fines and orders are only enforceable by invoking the so called ‘terrorist’ laws. The latter situation is what people in some places invoke successfully to challenge the imposition of these fines and laws when they are done by invoking Regulations.
    However, I believe that while some of us might wish to challenge the imposition of these regulations and laws, we should also want to be a good witness to being law abiding and loving at the same time.
    Let us keep praying that our Lord will uphold us through these challenging times, just as he has supported his people over the millenia.

  4. Bishop McKenna on Covid Vaccination.
    For some reason Bishop McKenna of the Bathurst diocese has come out with a statement on the Covid vaccinations. His comment is dated 01/09/2021 and he encourages people to get the jab unless their medical condition precludes it. One wonders what expertise he has.

    The Bishop admits he has had the jab, so he gets a ‘good boy’ for that and a pat on the head from his civilian overlords. To give his decision to have the jab credibility he says he (a) relied on reputable medical advice about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine and (b) on the teaching of the Catholic Church that it was morally lawful.

    As to (a) and the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, the Bishop should be aware that not all reputable scientific advice shares that view. The Bishop’s silence on the possibility of serious adverse effects of the vaccine renders his statement reckless in the extreme. He should have referenced the work of scientists like Dr Judy Wilyman PhD to ensure he presented a balanced view; her work is not difficult to follow. The ‘adverse effects’ issue is important and to ignore it is to present a dangerously biased view. By avoiding the issue the Bishop has demonstrated his moral ignorance.

    As to (b), I believe the Pope said one could have the abortion tainted vaccine if no alternative vaccine was available. The unavailability of a non-abortion tainted vaccine has suddenly made the abortion tainted vaccine legitimate. This is the same pope who was quite happy to throw faithful Chinese Catholics under the bus. The same pope who said of the homosexual union – who am I to judge. The same pope who has jumped into bed with pagan idols and gutted the Latin Mass. The same pope who stoops to kiss the hand of some Arab leader then bows before a pro-abortion president and hands him our most cherished Catholic treasure. One wonders at the wisdom of taking advice from him.

    Does the Bishop seriously believe this is Catholic teaching. Isn’t there a Moral rule that one may not do evil so that good may come of it. In any event, how is it that the Bishop is suddenly so eager to resort to Catholic Moral Teaching. I’ve never heard him cite Catholic Teaching on Abortion or Homosexuality or the Contraceptive Pill or Pornography, or any other moral issue. He’s very keen to save people from dying of Covid, not so keen to save people from dying of that far more lethal pandemic – abortion. He claims solidarity and care for the common good while the blood of slaughtered infants cries out for vengeance from beneath the altar of sacrifice.

    This snag of a bishop doesn’t like to confront people, it might hurt their feelings. It might also cause them to admit their sin before God and pursue their right to forgiveness.

    It is true that we all have a duty to a well-informed conscience. Indeed, the Bishop would be the chief informer of that conscience, so he should know. Tell that to the many Catholics who voted yes to gay marriage. How does the bishop explain that the divorce rate and the abortion rate among Catholics equals the National average. How well are the consciences of young people informed as to the dangers of pornography. The Bishop may not know it, but he is presiding over the slow agonizing death of Catholic Biblical Morality.

    At one point the bishop talks about Catholics in the third person. He should have us Catholics front and center because on us rests his eternal salvation. Don’t forget that.

    It’s too late now. Bishop McKenna has chosen solidarity with the enemies of Christ. There is no place in the Kingdom for traitors, and faithful Catholics will weep at never being able to trust their bishop to correctly inform their conscience. Good luck on judgment day.

  5. In China everyone knows who the dictator is that is in charge. Everyone knows if you do not follow the system your future could be destroyed. Everyone knows that people of faith are persecuted. Everyone knows that they are under surveillance. Everyone knows that your life is not yours but the government’s.

    So what is the difference in Australia, we just elect our governments but essentially everything is the same.
    The dictators change but the difference between them is getting hard to see.

    I am going to my Father’s court to seek justice against the governments of Australia because our governments will not give people of faith justice.

    What good is a prosperous nation if the the hierarchy is government, God and then the people. If God is not above the government then the prosperity that comes from God should not be given.

    This is the time of harvest and so may the governments reap exactly what they have sown.
    If they sow restrictions, may they themselves be restricted.
    If they sow discrimination may they reap of it
    If they rob people by preventing them from earning a living then may they also be robbed.
    But if they set free the people may they also be set free.
    If they bless the work and the people of God may they also be blessed.
    If they give freely to the people may they prosper.

    God’s work will not stop despite what the governments do. The only difference is that if the governments support it they will be blessed but if they hinder it the blessings that come from God will not be theirs.

  6. The government has been caught out and is madly acting out an ex-post facto justification manoeuvre to gain credibility for its absurd reaction to a mostly mild illness. So, we can ‘open up’ when the population has reached 70%-80% vaccinated? 70%-80%? OK, which? there’s almost a 15% difference between the two numbers. So if we reach 71% all OK?

    And if 71% is OK to open up, then it really is OK to open up. No further strictures are indicated or indeed needed. That’s the way the ‘herd immunity’ game works. It’s not even about 71% in any group being vaccinated, it’s over the whole population in question.

    For this reason, vaccine ‘passports’ are irrelevant. They are a gesture in this game of ‘the government was right all along’ and ‘you really really need the government to look after you, poor possums’. This is part of the Ebola game that everyone in power plays with abject enthusiasm and moral preening for the benefit of the easily amused: the media and the vacant minds that feed of it’s intellectual detritus. No such thing is called for, and this should be the point.

    Added to this is that most church gatherings are quiet, passive affairs (the arm wavers excluded — but what would be the problem even there? CV-19 is not spread by arm pit exposure!).

    Now, that’s the objective point we need to fight on.

    That, plus the minimal CFR for below 50s, the availability of demonstrated cheap therapies, the natural uptake of vaccinations, which is moving along nicely, and the ease with which the vulnerable can protect themselves (by wearing scuba gear).

    OTOH, Scotty thinks the church is an authoritarian glee club that needs to be controlled…maybe he thinks of his own church.

  7. The persecution that has afflicted our brothers and sisters around the world is coming to Australia. If we can’t meet in our church buildings, then the church will move underground as in China and in other places. There is probably no going back. Our governments are hell-bent on their course which will not surprisingly take them to that destination.

    There are always arguments against house churches but circumstances will make them the way of the near future at least.

    Either way, we have Christ, we have the Word and we do not need denominations or buildings to be the church.

  8. Thank you Bill for your clear and undivided statement of truth here.
    There is much to be worried about within our churches and in certain Christians’ theological understanding regarding the seeming onrush of vax passports. Such will cause angst and tears; even division. However, that is Satan’s way, so as to try and break down those who are with Jesus Christ and desire to bring others to Him.while comforting and encouraging the flock.
    Obviously the Bible demonstrates this tactic of Satan and his minions, through some Christians, let alone non-believers. Instances in world history and the Bible abound. We need to continue in prayer and worship together as a church body, not disintegrating into pixels on a screen.
    Such congregational worship may be made all but impossible, or impossible, by the governments and their authority figures. However, we are to strive to do that which God commands us to do, even if it makes us thoroughly uncomfortable- but hopefully more aware and comfortable in our relationship with God. It is counting the cost time ahead I think and I pray for my church, my wife, my family and friends…and myself.
    God bless.

  9. Here is some encouraging news from the UK where a street preacher – who has already faced many public order charges in the past – has been cleared of breaching Covid regulations when preaching The Bible in the open air.

    https://christianconcern.com/ccpressreleases/victory-as-first-christian-preacher-to-be-prosecuted-under-covid-regs-sees-case-thrown-out/

    In March this year, a Judicial Review in Scotland was also successful in overturning the Scottish Government’s unlawful decision to restrict church services because of European Human Rights issues.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/24/scotlands-covid-lockdown-ban-church-services-breached-human/

    Some bad news also. The Scottish Government has today introduced vaccine passports, as well as a ban on all protests inside or outside the Scottish Parliament building. This is the same Nationalist government that recently passed the new Hate Crime Bill, which some regard as the most Draconian in the world, and a Bill which will make it unlawful for everyone to say just about anything about anything – even inside the “privacy” of their own home!

  10. Surprised no-one tried to argue COVID is unholy the church is the house of God and God can’t allow the unholy in his presence so we can’t allow unvaxxed who could be tainted in his house.

    “This snag of a bishop doesn’t like to confront people, it might hurt their feelings.”

    That is a big problem with society and even the church feeling are our guide now. The snowflake generation and gen Z are so brainwashed with stratospheric levels of self esteem they judge everything by how it makes them feel and even the Bible is judged that way even by older generations. If a part makes them feel bad well it doesn’t belong there must be an addition or a mistranslation because it does FEEL like something God would say or do. How many Christian youth, or even adults, could tell you every LGBT slogan regarding LOVE but couldn’t tell you more than a couple cherry picked verse about it??? Or could tell you the leftist definition of God from memory but couldn’t point to Bible verses that define God????

    I can tell you what my pansexual gender nonbinary cousin says about God. Nice can you tell me what the apostle Paul said?? Or better yet what Jesus ACTUALLY said about God???? Too many readers of the gospel according to Marx out there. We expect it from the world but the tragedy is too many promote it IN the church. One expects hatred from the world, a servant is not above his master, but one should be loved not hated by brethren. Although even there Jesus too was most hate my his religious brethren so we shouldn’t be surprised I guess that we too face this type of hatred.

  11. The latest according to NSW Deputy Premier is that businesses will be fined if they are found serving unvaccinated customers!

  12. At least Dr Kerry Chant is honest about bringing in a “New World Order” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqtvCIWJY2E

    Let’s hope people realise the implications before it is too late and the NSW backlash against the greyhound racing ban ends up looking like very small bickies compared to the rightful backlash against this nonsense. I still find it amazing, however, that people have still not woken up to the absurdity of the illogical, fear and panic driven blackmail that we are seeing by those entrusted with our “emergency” controls. This is far worse than we have seen in other nations.

    Let’s hope and pray people will wake up to the evidence and that democracy and freedom will prevail. If the truth is allowed to come out these fear mongers are going to look more than just stupid – they will be seen as a danger to a free and just society. It does, however, look like, just as Australia is sometimes used for product trials, the powers of wickedness are seeing what they are able to get away with in “Test Case Australia.” Let’s hope Australia is smart enough to see us through this.

  13. ‘Pastor, I have my Covid passport here.’ ‘But between you and I, you know I have MRSA, hepatitis and conjunctivitis?’ ‘My family all have it and they will come a little later.’

    Pastor, ‘sure no worries.’ ‘It is Covid that has everyone afraid and we need to keep everyone safe.’

  14. Brother, I found your thoughts compelling and Biblically sound. However, I do not see how Hebrews 9:27 commands us to meet? Please excuse my ignorance.

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