Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the audience gathered to celebrate his inauguration at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Progressive technocrats continue to address religious observances as though they are a hobby during the Chinese virus crisis. Georgetown law professor Jonathan Turley tweeted:
…Free exercise does not immunize dangerous acts. A pastor cannot disregard limits on congregation size to combat a pandemic threat any more than a fire threat. Spell insists “true Christians do not mind dying,” but their neighbors might mind a great deal.https://t.co/OeklvR5Q6X
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) April 11, 2020
First of all, Turley seems confused. A city or county might rightly forbid people from meeting in a building that violates fire codes; but they are not allowed to forbid a congregation from meeting at all.
But this isn’t about ‘safety’ anyway–not really. The binary of ‘safety versus religious freedom’ is spurious. If safety were the real issue on the government’s mind, parishioners in Mississippi would not have been ticketed $500 for going to a drive-in service and listening to their pastor over the radio with the windows rolled up.
No, the bullying of churches during the health crisis amounts to asserting state authority over religion, and the Constitution be damned. Progressive technocrats–among whom Turley belongs, whether he calls himself a ‘conservative’ or not–are seizing on the health crisis to treat religion as a strictly ‘private’ matter that he and his ilk may patronize and suppress at their discretion.
In this new order of things, the proles may worship their little crystals or their Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags or their dead guy on a cross, just so long as their quaint chicanery doesn’t conflict with ANYTHING the techno-bureaucratic elite deem to be of public concern, anointed as they are by the divine right of experts.
At the risk of uttering a hackneyed phrase, the suppression of religious observance under dubious pretexts is the ‘slipperiest of slopes.’ The repercussions of this authoritarianism on the country’s thinking and attitudes will rattle our society long after the Chinese virus crisis has subsided. As State Rep. John Fuller (R – Kalispell) said:
Increasing dependence on government and passively accepting that some “elite” somewhere knows best about our welfare is much more dangerous than the Wuhan virus. The natural desire to be “safe” often suppresses the need to be free. But abandoning one’s responsibility to provide for their own safety will result in government tyranny. And you will still die.
And if you wonder what I mean by “dubious pretexts,” consider this: what happens if, in a month or six, scientists declare that “we now know social distancing wasn’t useful to stop the disease. Turns out we would have been fine without it.” Such a reversal is entirely possible. Scientists reformulate their conclusions all the time. That’s how scientific knowledge evolves. In the last few years, researchers have reversed their opinions a half dozen times about whether eggs are ‘good for you’ or not.
The constant turnabouts in scientific knowledge are why pseudo-scientific social engineering is no way to run a society or a government. Never-ending and capricious reversals by ‘experts’ about a society’s fundamental tenets throw that society into chaos. If you don’t believe me, ask the Soviet Union–if you can get them on the phone.
In the event of a reversal on social distancing, will the people punished with tickets for sitting in their cars at drive-in church get a refund? Will technocrats say, “Sorry we blew up the Constitution! We won’t go on a civil-liberty killing spree next time an emergency comes up!”
Don’t hold your breath. More likely, the techno-bureaucrats will feel their exercise of authority was entirely appropriate and legitimate, even if their ‘facts’ turn out to be all wrong.
Pace The Hill article above and Turley’s sanctimonious rationalization, the Constitution does NOT allow states to ensure the health of their citizens by any means necessary–not when doing so tramples fundamental civil liberties. If that were true, lib governors and mayors would simply declare: “Firearms endanger the health of our citizens, so none of those here. Same goes for cigarettes, booze, pizza, sugar, and non-electric cars.”
Or consider a more inflammatory scenario: a few mosques have at times been hubs and meetings places for Islamist terrorists. The ‘virus’ of violent terrorism spreads at these places of worship. Should the states close all mosques until further notice? You know, just to be safe and prevent “dangerous acts”? Sounds a bit totalitarian, doesn’t it?
The sidelining of religious freedom is just the latest episode in the ‘Make America a Technocracy’ project. The technocrats who populate our institutions of power are seizing the opportunity to run a social science experiment on us, using decrees to manage the spread of the Chinese virus. As professors Donald S. Siegel and Robert M. Sauer point out in their essay for the Jerusalem Post, the decision to run such a risky experiment violates a supposedly free people’s right to informed consent and even the ethics of social science:
Unfortunately, the current experiment that is being conducted on us by supposedly democratic governments throughout the world follows none of the these principles. Moreover, it has been designed by unelected public health officials; the same officials who failed in their duty to protect us from the virus ….
Public health officials, working with an unscrupulous media, have feverishly constructed a false and misleading narrative that conveniently fits their apocalyptic view of a “crisis.” This has compelled politicians, even those who would normally reject draconian measures to stifle economic activity, to engage in the most rapid form of self-inflicted wealth destruction and restriction of economic liberty we have ever witnessed in a free society.
Religion stands squarely in the way of the progressive technocrats, not just in managing the Chinese virus but in all sorts of social engineering projects. Religion rests on ancient wisdom and principles, not the latest fad of government-by-numbers. Religion unifies adherents against capricious and reckless changes to the fabric of the culture.
By reducing religious observance to the level of a hobby, progressive technocrats force reclassification of religion both in the law and in the populace’s minds, while opening the way for their own developing power.
We may go back to something like normal soon; but if the techno-bureaucratic elites have their way, congregations will know from now on they meet at the pleasure of the government and the ‘experts’ who tell the government what to do.