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.)

Does God Need a Church?

In my part of the world, “churches” (read: pastors) are clamoring for the right to open their doors as CV-19 (supposedly) winds down. They are complaining that their congregations need a place to gather and console one another, and without it they are “suffering irreparable harm.”

According to them, “The public interest is furthered by allowing people to fully exercise their right to worship and conduct their business.” (Emphasis mine)

Since our State Governor disagrees, they have filed lawsuits.

An attorney who represents two of the local churches claims the coronavirus restrictions made sense in the beginning, but continuing to extend a ban that prevents churchgoers from “assembling at their places of worship is too great an infringement on their constitutional rights.”

By the way, as a reminder, the First Amendment to the Constitution prevents the government from making laws which regulate an establishment of religion, and it may not prohibit the free exercise of religion.

From my perspective, neither of these “rights” come into play here. Especially the second one since no one is being prohibited from exercising their religion … they’re just not being allowed to do it within a designated building.

This attorney further claims the Governor’s orders imply that church services, weddings, and youth group meetings are not essential — and then he goes on to compare them with places like Costco or Home Depot (that have been allowed to stay open).

(I’m not sure I get the connection … ??)  

He goes on to say that “churches do a lot for people’s spiritual and emotional and mental health.” Hmmm. Does the “church” do this … or does their God?

Considering all this, the question that comes to my mind is … why do God-Lovers (or at least their leaders) insist they need a place to pray and worship their imaginary being? Didn’t Jesus say “I am with you always?” Or did I miss that part where he added … so long as you’re in a church building?

Of course the bottom line to all this isn’t that people need a place to worship. It’s that  Church Leaders are suffering –just like the many other “non-essential” workers– and they’re trying to use religion to get around the Governor’s restrictions.

So what else is new in the world of Christianity?

What Say You?

Quebec Bans Religious Symbols

Courtesy Stockvault.net

Supporters say it “upholds the separation between religion and state, and maintains the neutrality of public sector workers.”

Critics say it “flouts freedom of religion, breaches constitutional protections and excludes minorities who choose to wear symbols of faith from vital professions.

A Catholic teacher, who wears a visible cross and medallion of the Virgin Mary, said in court papers that her faith and identity were inextricably bound, and that her constitutional right to freedom of religion was being breached. Others who wear religious symbols of other faiths echo this sentiment.

The ban has its roots in Quebec’s historic evolution into an abidingly secular society.

A Thousand Words

When I was a Christian (many, many years ago), I was told (more than once) that “Scripture has Power!” It was “my sword and my shield” against a depraved world.

In essence (and briefly put), all I had to do was use words from the bible and sinners (those folk who don’t believe in supernatural beings) would acknowledge their evil ways, fall to their knees, and worship god.

Imagine my disappointment when it didn’t work. 😮!!

But of course it didn’t work! Like the old saying goes … “Sticks and stones may break my bones; but words will never hurt me.” (And especially not in the blogging world!)

Add to that the fact that “scripture” is taken from a book that came about simply because ancient people needed a way to understand the world. As such, its contents are based on events and beliefs that are several thousand years old and have long since been replaced by, oh what do they call it? Ahhh yes … Increased Knowledge and Understanding.

In other words, life has moved on and for many of us, it’s a bit difficult to get upset and concerned about myths and legends that were used many centuries ago to explain how the world worked. Especially when they have been usurped by modern knowledge related to the world we live in today (e.g., science, mathematics, cosmology, medicine, engineering, etc.).

Yet, there are those who continue to rely on the contents of this book, believing that it contains eternal truths. Especially about death — and a potential afterlife.

What’s interesting about this “truth,” however, is that even the good book offers alternate stories on what happens at death. The Hebrew Bible talks about the afterlife as a shadowy place known as sheol (grave, pit, abyss) and all who died went there. There was no segregation between the righteous and the unrighteous. Over the centuries, however, this perspective changed little by little until the hereafter became a place of fire and brimstone for the bad guys … or a “heavenly abode” for the good guys. Hmmm. Wonder how that happened?

In any event, there will most likely always be a subset of humans who are certain there’s a “guy in the sky” who created this world and is watching over them as they go about their daily lives. And they will also remain convinced that the”holy words” of the bible have magic powers to convince the aforementioned sinners to change their evil ways.

What they fail to recognize/accept is not everyone believes in magic.

In my opinion, it’s (past) time for Christians to recognize that their literary and verbal wranglings are not going to accomplish what they desire. As Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright of the late 19th century, once said: A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.     

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Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay