Pastor Stacey Shiflett, like many other pastors, is refusing to obey orders to keep his church closed. Shiflett, however, is going a step further and making sure that they see his defiance with visual aids.
Shiflett’s Calvary Baptist Church in Dundalk in Baltimore received a cease-and-desist letter from local officials, threatening to fine the church $5,000 for holding in-person services. According to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s order, churches can now reopen at 50 percent capacity but left the timing of the order to local governments.
On Wednesday night, Shiflett was holding a service that had 100 congregants in his 600 seat building, put him well below the 50 percent range, but the local municipality still issued a cease-and-desist letter. Shiflett was clearly displeased during his service and mid-sermon, tore the letter in pieces, and tossed it aside.
“With this cease-and-desist letter in my hand, the Bible says to the New Testament church ‘not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but so much more as you see the day approaching,’ and the closer we get to Jesus coming back, the more church we ought to be having, not less church.”
“Now that’s God’s parameters,” he added. “So I’m tearing up this cease-and-desist order right here, and I’m telling you right now, we’re gonna do it God’s way! God tells us how to worship Him, nobody else gets to do that.”
— Stacey Shiflett 🇺🇸 (@staceyshiflett) May 21, 2020
Shiflett told Fox News that his decisions, like many other pastor’s decision to stay open, involved the permission to worship coming from God, not the government.
“Either we have liberty to worship or we have permission to worship,” Shiflett said. “It has become abundantly clear that if we settle for permission, we will never have liberty again.”
Shiflett plans to open the doors to his church on Sunday and is essentially challenging authorities to come at him.
“I don’t plan on shutting the church. If they fine us, I’m not paying it. It’s unconstitutional. They don’t have a leg to stand on,” he said.
Churches all over the nation are taking a stand and opening their church doors in defiance of local and state laws, standing on their constitutional right to gather and worship freely. Each pastor, like Shiflett, has expressed their willingness to go to higher courts in order to see to it that their religious liberties are observed.