When COVID-19 was first recognized in our country, we had no known cure or treatment, and people were, indeed, dying at alarming rates. Because of this, people largely had grace for the first round of COVID restrictions – even the initial economic shutdowns. For the last eight months, even those who are skeptical about the science behind masks have continued to wear them, at the very least, for the health of those who are most vulnerable.
But in the months since COVID first arrived, the medical community has made enormous strides to understand the disease and best practices to treat it. Deaths, while always tragic, are a tiny fraction of what they were when this started. A vast, vast majority of people who test positive for COVID-19 either face very mild symptoms or never face any at all. Very few people who contract it, statistically, ever face hospitalization, let alone death.
Despite all this, Governor Inslee has entered a new phase of COVID restrictions. More specifically, he has either returned to or expanded the restrictions that were enacted at the beginning of this health crisis. The most egregious restrictions have been and continue to be the ones enacted against churches.
Canyon Hills Community Church in Bothell is among the first churches to publicly put their foot down after Governor Inslee moved to restrict capacity of churches to just 25% — and disallow singing altogether.
“Corporate worship, prayer and preaching are essential to our faith,” said Dr. Steve Walker, senior pastor at Canyon Hills. “We are going to continue with our church services on Sunday morning. We’re going to continue at 50% capacity.”
Justice Samuel Alito of the U.S. Supreme Court recently warned us that many government leaders are using COVID as an excuse to undermine religious liberty, something we have been observing here in Washington State for most of the year. “The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty,” he said.
Governor Inslee threatens to enact penalties on churches that do not comply with his orders. Of course, they encourage anonymous complaints against violators and have no uniform penalty structure, meaning that, on a “case-by-case” basis, they’ll determine how much churches must pay the government as a penalty for exercising their freedom.
Government now knows enough about this disease that it should be willing to release its grip on power and allow people to return to freedom and personal responsibility. Of course, the underlying motives of the radical left have not changed; to them, faith is not an integral part of daily life. It is a luxury, an unnecessary risk, and a useless enterprise – one that they are more than happy to deprive people of in their quest for an anti-religion utopia.
The Family Policy Institute of Washington stands with organizations like the Pacific Justice Institute, a law group that provides assistance to churches whose rights have been violated by governments, and with pastors like Dr. Steve Walker who refuse to bow to illegal state actions.
Even if they pretend otherwise, Washington State’s officials are still subject to the words and edicts of the United States Constitution. It is time to step up, to stand up, and to protect the unalienable and undeniable right of religious liberty here in our state.
Even in these times of frustration and restriction, we know that God will still fill our mouths with laughter and shouts of joy (Job 8:21). We wish you and your family a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!