Higher Power?

“We answer to a higher power.”

This is the defense that church leaders offer as California Governor Gavin Newsom (once again) puts restrictions on indoor church services because of the pernicious increase in COVID-19 cases.

Yup. As discussed in one of my earlier posts, the churches are once again complaining that they should be exempt from any and all limitations related to their services.

As most of my readers know, I’m adamantly against any “special privileges” by Christians.

And yes, believers, I’m well aware that the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

The BIG difference is NO ONE is PROHIBITING the free exercise thereof. The powers-that-be are simply ruling that you don’t do your “free exercise” within the confines of a church building. And this ruling is backed by medical and health professionals that know far more about what’s best for Christians (and heathens alike) than any church leader.

But let’s go back to the first line of this post: “We answer to a higher power.”

No doubt this references the Christian God which no one (outside of bible fables) has ever seen or heard — contrary to the claims of believers who are certain they heard God “speak” to them during occasional moments of prayer. Or on those occasions when they desperately wanted their god to move on their behalf and “he” answered.

However, lucid and rational-thinking individuals –the ones who endorse the old saying seeing is believing– tend to utter “hogwash!” to these celestial claims.

The ONLY “higher power” that has been proven to exist are those neurons and protons that exist within one’s physical brain.

In other words, complaining pastors, it’s all in your head!

The hard truth is these church leaders are fearful of losing their source of income … and they will use whatever tactics/excuses/reasons they can come up with to justify their need.

It’s just too bad that those who are in other lines of work cannot use the same excuse to vindicate their (very real) needs during this pandemic.

Here is a question that continues to gnaw at me and no pastor who complains about “religious rights” has been able to answer: Why has this “higher power” allowed so many to die from a virus that, supposedly, “He” could have prevented?

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References:

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2020/november/ca-church-goes-to-court-facing-350-000-fines-despite-zero-covid-cases

https://lc.org/newsroom/details/20201125dragging-the-ca-gov-to-the-supreme-court (Notice the request for donations at the end of the article.)

54 thoughts on “Higher Power?

  1. I note that Liberty Council says they are defending the right of religious freedom yet that’s not strictly true as the writer of their post points out that 400 years ago they arrived at Plymouth MA. to advance Christian faith which would seem to exclude all others. hey also suggest that the placement of the newest Supreme Court judge will help in that endeavor which suggests she is not as unbiased as she should be. Anyway, there is nothing to prevent a Christian, or members of any other faith for that matter, from practicing his/her faith outside Church At the writing of the First Amendment there would have been no expectation of a virus like this one and so there was no exception written in but surely the Christian’s own code of morality would have allowed for the protection of others from their own selfishness.If you feel you are not Christian enough without confining yourself to an incubating chamber once a week then go, but stay there and isolate for 14 days and come out without being a threat.
    Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Evangelicals seem to believe in two “higher powers” — one of which is invisible, and the other of which will run out of power on Jan 20, thank God.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Davin Robertson has been whining about this for a while. However, now that limited numbers of football fans are being allowed into stadiums in the UK – exercising all relevant protocols – perhaps these Christians have a valid point?

    Personally, I consider the entire easing of restrictions in this manner a farce and I’m expecting an upswing in new cases in the UK pretty soon.
    That said, the church my mum attends is still under lockdown.

    But what’s good for the goose etc?

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the case of stadium vs. church building, isn’t the former generally outside? However, even if they are indoor stadiums, you mentioned “limited numbers” whereas these pastors seem to feel that any and all should be free to worship in their favored church building.

      There have been number-restrictions for churches pretty much all along, but as is obvious, some of the more greedy ones tend to think their god doesn’t find that acceptable.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I just don’t get it. What makes religious Americans, and particularly Christians so much different from religious Kiwis?

    Churches here were surprisingly mute when the country went into lockdown, with the most vocal opposition coming from the business community. After lockdown, churches tended to follow official health guidelines which are more restrictive than the government imposed regulations. Again it was parts of the business sector that was and still is calling for the remaining restrictions to be relaxed faster.

    My own group has continued with Zoom as part of all gatherings, which means I can attend more than in pre pandemic days. They’ve set up a hygiene protocols for the use of the building and facilities that is more stringent that the government regulations but they’ve found some community groups that use the building tend to be careless in following them.

    As an aside, the nearest thing we have to an evangelical fundamentalist megachurch found a way of getting around crowd limits as restrictions were relaxed by instituting “drive-in” church services. “Bishop” Tamaki’s call for other churches to join him in opposing the restrictions as “a breach of rights” was not taken up. Coronavirus: Destiny Church continues Sunday service with precautionary measures

    Liked by 3 people

    • You wrote: I just don’t get it.

      If you lived in a country ruled by a jackass who garners a following of similar bozos, it becomes much clearer. As I’ve said before, be thankful you’re far, far away and live among individuals who seem to be/are looking out for their people.

      Liked by 3 people

    • My knowledge of Kiwi history may be slight, but an unfortunate major thread of American history has been crazy religion. From the “Pilgrims” who were so besotted with religion that they could not tolerate living in “liberal” Holland to the religious fervors of the Burnt Over Country to the Mormon craziness to heck Scientology. We are prone to firestorms of religious nuttery.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have my own theory on why some aspects of our respective societies are so different, and that is based around why settlement occurred in the first place.

        As I see it, early american settlers were escaping from religious tyranny and authoritarian governments in Britain and Europe, and ideals of religious freedom, suspicion of government, and personal liberty have become hallmarks of “the American way”. But thing they didn’t abandon from the Old World was intolerance. This was clearly evident in the colonial era when religious toleration was almost non existent apart from a few liberal colonies to the point that even Quakers were executed for promoting their beliefs.

        No doubt the means by which America gained its independence and its civil war a century later also influenced the national character.

        On the other hand, early settlers to New Zealand were escaping from a different form of oppression that rose in the wake of the industrial revolution. They wanted protection from the excesses of capitalism, a society based on fairness, egalitarianism, equitable distribution of wealth and equality of opportunity. For these, they looked to government as the best means of not only guaranteeing them, but also to provide them.

        This can be seen in the establishment of a free compulsory secular education system in the 1850s, old-age pensions in the 1890s. The principle of “one man, one vote” was introduced in the 1850s so that Māori could vote as they owned property communally and not individually. Women gained the right to vote in 1893, and by the 1930s we had a “cradle to grave” social welfare system in place. In the 1970s we also gained a universal no faults accident compensation scheme.

        Don’t get me wrong – our system has many faults, of which the “tall poppy syndrome” is perhaps our worst. But of the two, I prefer ours over the American system. I suspect most Americans would prefer theirs over ours.

        Like

        • ” I suspect most Americans would prefer theirs over ours.”

          Probably universally the case. Myself, I am an evil soshuuuuhhhhhlist in some ways, so I envy the Kiwi society.

          I am not all that convinced that the modern generations of American Tall Poppies (unfortunately concentrated in rentier finance and social control/media) generate anything all that wonderful in the long run.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Here its important that those who are exceptional in some way (the tall poppies) do not make a point of displaying their exceptionalism. The more exceptional one is, the more it is necessary to display humbleness and modesty of their success.

            Unfortunately, for some people, our dislike for displays of exceptionalism, is misplaced to actually disliking the exceptionalism itself. This would be true in almost every field of endeavour,with perhaps the sports field being partially exempted.

            Like

            • Not sure I am a fan of completely no fault insurance, though. The dingbat woman who drove right into a through street and knocked a pickup truck into me on my bicycle…I want her to pay SOMETHING for the pain and suffering. MY leg is still aching six weeks later (I am braving the Covid-infested health care system for an ultrasound Monday 😦

              Liked by 1 person

            • Surely the dingbat is guilty of multiple traffic violations that would result in a court appearance? Here a judge can direct that a proportion of any fine imposed be paid to the victim instead of to the court.

              The problem with paying SOMETHING is the inequity that often results. This is particularly true if there’s a considerable disparity between the wealth/income of the payer and the payee. If the victim is wealthy and the culprit is poor, the culprit will pay a much higher proportion of his wealth/income than if the situation was reversed.

              Apart from pain and suffering, and immediate medical costs, there’s also long term medical costs, loss of income, perhaps for months, years or decades, and in the case of permanent injury, modifications to your home, workplace, and means of transport to consider – even retraining for another field of employment if necessary. When all these are added to the equation there’s no way someone at the bottom of the socio-economic heap can adequately compensate someone regardless of the socio-economic status of the victim, let alone those at the top.

              If the tables were turned, a victim at the bottom of the heap might not have the resources or skills needed to obtain adequate redress from the wealthy culprit, particularly if the legal profession gets involved. If lawyers get involved, they are the only ones who get adequate compensation.

              And if you’re struck by lightning, who are you going to sue? God? Thor or Zeus perhaps? As far as I’m aware, no god has never paid compensation to anyone, regardless of how horrific their actions were.

              Here, all the above are covered under our scheme. It applies equally to all residents and all visitors to the country. If you visit NZ and trip and break your leg when leaving your aircraft on arrival, you’re covered.

              As an aside, I had to Google “through street”. It’s not a term used here, nor is there a direct equivalent.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Your medical system makes me sooo envious. Unfortunately, the chances of it coming to pass in this country are next to nil. Instead, people can lose everything simply because they contract a major illness or are injured in a major accident. The dividing line between the haves and have-nots is deep and dark.

              Liked by 3 people

  5. I visited with my mother yesterday. She is a devoted Roman Catholic. She said she went to Mass on Tuesday, which was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day which requires attendance at Mass. She hadn’t been to Mass in months because of COVID (she’s 85 years old). But my father, who passed two years ago, would have insisted that she attend … this was one of his favorite holy days. She said that she would never attend Mass again … at least until COVID was dealt with. She said that there weren’t many people at church, but the kids from the school were there, not all masked, some only with bandanas on, and none of them properly social distancing. But what REALLY got to her was that the Father didn’t properly wash his hands before handing out the communion hosts! She was aghast!

    No, the only higher power that is going to protect anyone is the higher power that resides inside our own brain. Even my MOTHER knows this.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m glad to read of your mother’s decision. I know devoted Catholics take their religion very seriously, but at this point in time with a pandemic raging, I find it difficult to understand how worshippers –of any religion– can deny its reality.

      But then … God. Or so they believe.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I think silverapplequeen’s mom makes the point exactly.

        Everything required of Roman Catholics and the Bible Christians can be done (free practice) without endangering others by contracting and spreading COVID-19.
        It is the idea that someone (because of their religion or status therein) is privileged or favored (kids, priests, ministers, elders) and does not need to follow any rules/precautions whatsoever that creates conflict. This is not about beliefs, scripture, gods, or religions; it is about behaviors, status, and health. Everyone’s health.

        “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is from the US Declaration of Independence. It proved these as unalienable rights have been given to all humans by their creator, and which governments are created to protect. This phrase is not legally binding, but has been widely referenced and seen as an inspiration for the role of government.

        When the practice of someone’s religion threatens the life of others, there is either something wrong with the religion or the manner in which it is being practiced.

        Maybe the Rapture will happen and those of us left behind will not have to deal with them any longer. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Might as well save your words although I love reading them!
    I will be glad when we start the new year/new master. And be glad for a bit of sanity for the next 4 years.
    But I have not read or heard any welcoming for the ‘oddballs’ such as we.
    Unless we grovel to some kind of mythical creator, we are not welcome.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Nan, God gave us a tool to solve many of our problems. He expects us to use it and not bother him. That tool lies between our ears. Here in my city, a church had a gathering and 85 known COVID-19 cases and two deaths resulted. Truth be told, this is all about declining attendance that has been occurring for many years. Some pastors worry people will get used to staying away.

    I am not less pious because I don’t go to church. Yet, I would not set foot in a church that is not going to abide by laws or keep people safe. I would not attend a snake handler church, as it is not safe, nor would I attend a church that practices bigotry from the pulpit.

    I am reminded of the religions that do not want doctors or hospitals to treat their members as they are praying for a miracle. I find that arrogant – how do they know if the well-prepared and experienced doctors, nurses and staff are not the vehicle of God’s miracle? Sorry for the soapbox. Keith

    Liked by 6 people

    • It definitely seems to me that it all depends on someone’s view of God. Many have like a ” Deus Ex Machina” kind of faith that God will always intervene and provide special protection or intervention especially if someone is a believer.

      Or, they might think that the reality of human suffering can never be compatible with the reality of God’s love.

      This is a related issue, and I know I’ve shared this observation before. But, I think it is no happenstance at all that the majority of Christian deconverts sharing on the internet always seem to come from the more fundamentalist/conservative evangelical or pentecostal type churches.

      Liked by 3 people

        • I’m not completely sure.

          I think partly it’s because harm has been done which impacts their thinking even on an unconscious level. It all leaves a bitter taste. If you deeply believe that God will rescue you from all trouble, and He doesn’t, what does that do to someone’s faith? I think there are some people who even feel personally condemned as if it’s all their fault if only they believed more or prayed harder. They feel let down by the church.

          Also, people mature emotionally and intellectually and grow past fundamentalism. Their thinking becomes deeper and more nuanced.

          But, what I don’t fully know is why for some people this may lead to a deeper, more mature, and complex Christian faith, but for others, it leads to atheism. Why?

          What makes the difference in people? Well, to give another example, if I see errors or inconsistency in the Scripture, my mind reasons that’s probably an error in the Bible or perhaps this passage should not be interpreted literally, etc.

          But, others might conclude if the Bible is not inerrant this naturally means there is no real value in the Scripture at all. Christianity is a total lie, and BTW there is no God.

          But, what is your thinking in this Nan? Do you know?

          Liked by 3 people

            • Ark, perhaps “mature” isn’t the best or wisest term to use. When I typed this among other things, I was thinking about Fowler’s Stages of Faith.. Have you studied anything about this?

              If so, I would like to hear your input. If Fowler’s observation and thinking are correct, then what causes someone to just get stuck in this very concrete, black/white, mythic, literal phase, and then feel even as an older adult that the choice is between this and atheism or even anti-theism? I don’t think intelligence is the core issue. It’s deeper, I think.

              Anyway, I would value your opinion. But, please be kind, dear Ark. After all, these are trying times as it is. 🙂

              How are things down there in S. Africa?

              Like

            • Never heard of this chap or his Stages of Faith.
              I just did the Googly thing.
              Fowler was a Christian.
              The alarm bells immediately rang.
              I notice that his study omitted the word ”Indoctrination”, although it was alluded to in Stage 1.

              Furthermore, it failed to describe Stage 7:
              De-conversion. (Or did I misread something?) This being the natural progression from an indoctrinated belief into one that recognizes and rejects said indoctrination. (unless such beliefs are continually reinforced – family friends community etc.) Though people do reject all of this as well.

              No matter how one tries to float this faith nonsense, the bottom line is: belief in a 2000 year old reanimated corpse is the key to entry into a ficticious realm called heaven.
              In light of evidence,(or lack thereof) why would you, or anyone else, willingly embrace such rubbish?

              How are things down there in S. Africa?
              Business is healthy, thank the gods, and the weather is hot!
              Much like me, in fact

              Liked by 1 person

            • You aren’t going to answer why you believe in the supposed redemptive powers of the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth?
              Surely you must have some sort of reason why you are a follower?

              Like

          • If I may chime in, I think we have to distinguish between the creator God and the religious (man-imagined) God. As a practicing Catholic for over 50 years, I once believed in the religious God, but over time, I came to see that the God of Catholicism (and every other religion) is a product of what ignorant and suffering people want to believe in order to explain away their ignorance suffering. But why would an all-powerful and loving God want those He loves to not know Him and to be born to suffer (including innocent infants with cancer and other horrible diseases)?

            In short, I came to realize that all religions are man-invented, leaving a creator as the only possible God. Of course, this still leaves the “big questions” (such as the purpose behind created existence) unanswered, but now we’re going above my pay grade (if you’ll pardon the pun)….and so this seems like a good place to beg off.

            Liked by 1 person

      • @Becky

        You might find it interesting that one recent study found that deconverts tend to have more positive attitudes towards religion and the religious than lifelong atheists. (See: <a href=“https://psyarxiv.com/w2ztn/”

        I suspect those deconverts who share negative experiences of the internet had well . . . more negative experiences and thus are more inclined to share. The stronger the viewpoint you hold, the more likely you will want to share it.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Keith, I don’t know how much you keep up with ‘televangelists’, but I have seen a conflict from different pulpits. There are some who say that the pandemic is God’s punishment for a sinful world, contrary to scripture, while others cast it out, declare it finished and damned to Hell, and yet others declare it a hoax.

      I know that some Christians have a very hard time accepting medical and scientific advancements. Some to a very tragic extreme.

      When I practiced the religion, I recall one obnoxious trait of Pastors; If you miss a day or two of meetings, you may be in danger of …
      I always felt that if the Pastor was doing his job then the congregation would be strong in their faith and have a good understanding of scripture, well equipped for walking alone. A mature Christian. But there is always that element of control, a need to develop a sense of dependency in the congregation.

      I think you have reasoned this out very well. A Christian with the confidence to stand alone. I like that. Kudos.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Growing up in Australia, I lived with a higher power. We had a 240 Volt electrical supply there.

    Here, in the USA, with only a 120V electrical supply, I no longer have to deal with a higher power.

    (That’s just my way of being cynical about the entire “higher power” thing.)

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I totally agree with Ubi. The “Higher Power” is the bank. Without a doubt, churches have felt a financial slap down with the virus onslaught–that is ongoing. Warm bodies bring cold hard cash into the building, so just like their political buddies, the evangelists and the preachers don’t give a rat’s ass about the people, they only want what can keep them going–power and money.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Nan, as I think you know, I am religious and therefore certainly theist. Two quick notes I’d add here:
    First, I think your assertion that, “these church leaders are fearful of losing their source of income” is spot on. Answering to a Higher Power is paramount for Christians, but if my interpretation of God is accurate, I imagine in His wisdom and compassion, He would desire that parishioners look out for themselves and others by doing what’s in the best interest of the public health. If the “Higher Power” these churches answer to has a name, I think that name is, to quote Rep. Omar, “all about the Benjamins, baby!”
    Second – and this is a general comment – I love the dialogue you generate here. I wish I could thank all the individual contributors one-by-one. You invite a diversity of thought, and it always pushes me, both intellectually and spiritually. That’s got to be the best way to grow!
    As always, keep posting, stay safe, stay well.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wow, Raz! Thank you soooo much for the compliment!!

      Interestingly, when I first started this blog –and for the first 2-3 years– I had next to nil visitors and even less comments. (No doubt my “notoriety” was not yet known. 😈) I’m not sure what changed, but I’ve often considered reposting some of my older creations just to see what would happen.

      Anyway, I appreciate your stance on Christianity. While I personally can no longer swallow its creeds, I don’t condemn anyone who believes. I was once a follower and know full well how insidious the pull towards a “creator” can be. I just find it sad that more are unable to see through the untenable tenets of the faith.

      You also stay safe and well. 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  11. “We answer to a higher power.”

    This statement is typical of the Christian Nationalist Dominionist church. They want the constitution to be gone along with our democratic government. Their intention is to replace our government with a theocracy.

    Look at the people who are defying elected officials. They struggle to keep people safe and try to get this covid virus under control all while many Republicans, many Christians, and all the troglodytes who believe anything Trump tells them, do all they can to spread the disease.

    These same people are supporting Trump in his effort to overturn the election. The same preachers who ignore the virus also pray for their God to just overturns the election Himself. I do not think this pertains to all Christians. Neither do I think it pertains to all Republicans, but the people who it does pertain to are those who are making the most ridiculous claims about the election, the virus, and the government.

    “We answer to a higher power.”

    They are denouncing our government and declaring that ‘the Laws of God’ is their only allegiance. We would call this anarchy or sedition, except for it being done in the name of God. When we see this behavior going on in other nations, we call on the UN to intervene to establish order and to ensure fair elections.

    Some of these preachers have suggested Democrats and LGBTQ people should be lined up and shot, making no exception for the Christians in both those groups. These Christians demand that all churches follow their agenda. If they don’t, then they are the wrong kind of Christians and will have no place in the new order. They think they are preparing the world for the Second Advent of Christ.

    I suggest all those Christians who respond to these blogs examine what is taking place in our society, that you compare what the ‘church’ is doing openly with the scripture that brought you to this point. If this is the kind of Christianity you want, then by all means get after it. Nothing these Fundamentalist Nationalist Dominionist Christians are doing has to do with your soul’s salvation. It is all about power and greed. Look at the history of the church, especially the papists; Religion always follows the money and the dictators. They grovel at the seat of power in order to save their own system. Your religion and your freedom is nothing to them. They will serve as a weapon to oppress the citizenry just to maintain their position.

    “We answer ‘only’ to a higher power.”

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Can’t reply to Nan at the December 12 at 8:39 comment so I will reply here. Our system is a joke, actually. It’s nothing but games and irrationality. Even if, as an insured person (Kaiser may be impersonal, but it ain’t bad) I pay directly out of pocket relatively little.

    My little accident: I accepted a ride to the local emergency room. $2000 for the ambulance ride. And my three hours being absent mindedly fussed over by a very busy emergency room staff, including an x-ray, a simply blood panel, and an IV drip? I saw the bill….It was $35,000!!!!! The mind just boggles.

    Like

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