Everybody is concerned about their loved ones during this trying and confusing time. Even I’m concerned about the ones that I love. I’m concerned about the death of my loved ones Liberty, Freedom, and the Bill of Rights. I understand that we have to take precautions and we have to be safe to slow the spread of the Coronavirus ravaging the world right now, but we can do it in a way where people can remain safe and people can remain free at the same time. The government always encroaches upon liberties and freedoms and rights during times of war and times of emergency, and the people that government represents never truly get back all of those rights and all of those freedoms after the war or the emergency is over with. Honor your founding fathers and ask yourself is the binary choice that the government is giving you of your liberty or your death really that binary? Very rarely do things boil down to that binary of a choice.
Let’s take the example of the preacher in Tampa Florida that was arrested last week for holding a church service at his church against the directives of the state and local government. If you’re unfamiliar with this case, let me give you the Cliff Notes version of what happened. A preacher of a megachurch in the Tampa Bay area declared his church and essential service after the Governor of Florida said that all non-essential gatherings of ten or more people should be canceled and proceeded to hold church services even after having discussions with local authorities about not doing so. That’s right, a preacher in the United States of America was arrested for conducting a church service. Why do we even have a Constitution anymore?
No emergency declaration nor any order issued under that emergency declaration can supersede the Constitution of the United States or the Bill of Rights. The state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans learn that the hard way after Katrina. During the state of emergency declared for hurricane Katrina and it’s aftermath, the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana tried to confiscate legal guns from legal gun owners. Both the state and the city paid hefty prices for trying to do that in the federal court system afterwards.
It clearly states in the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment that Congress shall make NO LAW prohibiting the free exercise of religion. It doesn’t say that Congress shall make no law except in times of emergency, or that the government can disregard that right during times of emergency, it says no law. Clearly, arresting a preacher for conducting a church service, even during an emergency declaration and after being ordered not to by the government, violates the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Now I am not making excuses for the preacher in Tampa. Clearly, he’s an idiot! He has a moral responsibility to his congregation to consider their health and safety when deciding if he’s going to conduct a church service at the church or online or not. As most normal people do, I think he made the wrong choice. But just because he made the wrong choice in my opinion, and the opinion of the local sheriff, doesn’t mean that the local sheriff has the right to go and arrest him for making that decision.
there is a better, more constitutional way to handle this situation than the way the local sheriff chose to deal with it. instead of clearly violating the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the local sheriff should have set up a checkpoint and roadblock in front of the church that Sunday with sheriff deputies and passed out flyers to anybody going into the church informing them that anybody that attends the church service that Sunday would be forcefully quarantined at the church site for a minimum of 14 days after the last person shows symptoms of Corona virus.
That would have gotten about 80 to 90% of the people’s attention, and they probably would have made a different choice other than showing up for church that Sunday. I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Back in the day, when a mandatory evacuation was ordered for Gulf shores and Orange Beach during a hurricane, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department would go around knocking on doors in those two cities. if somebody informed the sheriff’s deputies that they would not be leaving during the mandatory evacuation, the sheriff’s deputies would hand them a toe tag and ask them to fill it out. When the residents responded asking what that was for, they responded that it was so they could easily identify their body after the storm was over. That got a lot of people’s attention and a vast majority of the people reconsidered their decision to stay. Same principle would apply here in this situation. It’s a constitutional way to get people’s attention, make them consider the consequences of their actions, and probably make a better, more safer choice for themselves, their loved ones, and the general public while preserving the Constitution.
So the choice does not have to be the binary choice between liberty or death that the government makes it out to be. As a matter of fact the only reason why things have gotten as dire and heavy-handed as they have is because the government was caught flat-footed, unprepared or unwilling to do their job of actually protecting the American people from this virus. And it will be up to us the general public to ensure that we get all of the rights that we enjoyed before this pandemic struck America back after everything is over with, and holding our elected officials feet to the fire on this point. If they don’t, it will be our responsibility to elect liberty minded, constitutionally based elected officials that will honor, uphold and fight for the American Constitution.