CANADIAN GOVERNMENT RESTRICTS CHRISTIAN FOLLOWERS OUR CHARTERED RIGHTS
The Canadian Charter of Rights And Freedoms was drafted to protect the rights of every Canadian citizen. Those rights have become more and more important and that protection has become more and more needed as the Canadian Government has overreached its authority and violated these very rights of all Canadians during the Covid 19 pandemic. This article will focus on the violations towards Christian followers over the Covid 19 rules. I recognize that we are not the only community affected and imagine that other communities will also stand up for their Charter rights that covid rules violate.
The Charter Of Rights and Freedoms states:
“Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
“freedom of conscience and religion”
“freedom of peaceful assembly”
“freedom of association”
Practicing our faith involves many things, including public and corporate worship. This is a cherished freedom. Christian followers gather in church assemblies to worship together, hear God's Word spoken and to fellowship with each other. We have been doing this for two thousand years. Churches have stayed open through world crisis of every kind. They have stayed open during natural disasters, through economic crashes, through persecution, and even through times of war. Yet a virus from China is thought to trumps all of these other crisis’s and we are expected to accept restrictions on the practicing and living out of our faith.
What is the government asking Churches to do? We are mandated to restrict our services to 50 attendees. We are told to avoid passing collection plates and even avoid one of our most sacred practices, baptism. Failure to strictly adhere to social distancing rules could result in thousands of dollars in fines.
Throughout this present crisis churches, the Christian community as a whole, has shown great patience towards the Canadian government. However there comes a point at which the governments expectations are not realistic nor reasonable and something needs to be said.
If Covid restrictions had been imposed on Christian believers, taking away from us our religious freedoms and freedom of assembly, for a brief period such as three weeks, most Christian leaders would have accepted that with little protest. However there comes a point where it is no longer acceptable to prohibit people from practicing their faith. The Covid emergency has dragged on for over five months with no end in sight. Just how long will the restrictions continue? We don't know because we have not been told. However Adrian Dix, B.C.'s health Minister said at a press briefing in August 2020, “This pandemic… that we are all so very tired of will be going on, we would expect well into 2021, into 2022,”.
There needs to be a recognition on the part of government that most churches can't afford to operate if they turn away all but 50 of their members. There needs to be a recognition that restrictions as severe as these create great economic damage to churches and that this damage can only be absorbed if it is inflicted for only a limited period of time.
It needs to be recognized that practices such as baptism are not optional, peripheral, expendable ceremonies. Baptism is a sacred right that believers practise to testify of their faith. We are also commanded to practice baptism by Jesus Christ Himself, Who said
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Over the years I have heard of so many martyrs, Christian Believers living in communist or Muslim nations who were executed for being baptized as a Christian. It was against the law for them also but they were willing to die, rather than not follow in the command to be baptized. It is impossible for secular government officials who do not have faith in Christ themselves to understand the importance of this sacred expression of faith. They are certainly not in any place to weigh its value or regulate its practice.
In fact it is not the place for a secular government official to regulate, control, alter, modify, or deny any ceremony or practice of Christian faith. This is overreach. This is not their arena of operation. God has appointed three institutions in society: the family, the church and the state. Each has its own sphere of authority. As long as these institutions are respected by each other, they can thrive. However the problem that we see over and over again is that liberal and other left wing secular governments don't respect the other two institutions and meddle in their affairs. They undermine the institution of family in many ways, most notably by not accepting and contradicting God's definition of family, that is, one man and one woman united through holy matrimony for life and any children that they may have. They instead undermine and undo God's definition and promote alternative models of family. They also undermine family by overruling parental rights in favour of school authorities and special interests.
The other institution that the government has overstepped its authority, by intruding and trying to regulate, is the church. It is not the responsibility of government to tell the church how it must organize itself, conduct its services, say which sacred practices we may or may not do or tell the church how many people it may or may not serve. Restricting church attendance to fifty people not only means having to turn attendees away, but also forbids churches that are at that limit from growth. Forbidding church growth means that the church can't fulfill its mission.
The point is that secular government needs to back out of the institution of family and back out of the institution of the church. It is overreaching its authority, breaking the charter of rights and freedoms and violating Christian followers, as well as other communities also affected. This violation is deeply felt. Pastors and elders operate with God-given authority in ecclesiastical matters and must be left alone by civic leaders in this regard. It is a matter of jurisdiction. Secular government is blind to understand or appreciate our faith for its true worth. Consequently, without knowledge of the spiritual dimension, it is not able to evaluate what controls would be for our greater good or for our greater harm. On top of this, it is not the jurisdiction of civil government to regulate the church. It has not been equipped or commissioned by God for ecclesiastical matters. It is not the prerogative for civil government to alter, modify or forbid spiritual worship or Christian practice. It needs to back out of this sphere where it doesn't belong.
We stand for the autonomy of the local church and for it's God-given right to operate and to fulfill its mission to the world and its commission from God.We stand for the right of the Christian Church to follow Christ without external hampering or interference from any hierarchy of man, including secular government. We maintain that the Church does not need permission from the state to follow or obey God. In fact the authority of Jesus Christ is final and above all other authority. We read of Christ's authority, which God established: “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:20-23) We also read, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
It is time for secular government to drop restrictions on churches gathering together. The word “Church” in the original Greek language is “ekklesia” which means an assembly of called out ones. Assembling goes down to the core of who we are. For two thousand years we have been assembling together even though times of natural disaster, economic crashes, world calamities of every type and even war. Now we are expected by our government to accept crippling restrictions on our ability to meet, all over a virus?
Throughout the two thousand years that we have been practicing our faith, the Christian Church has suffered much persecution and believers have endured martyrdom. This often came at the hands of governments that tried to restrict or ban the practicing of our faith. Believers in every age have stood for their right to practice their faith.
Churches have shown a great deal of patience during this difficult time. No one would have objected to voluntarily complying with a few weeks of shutdown and lockdown. Government said that they needed a little time to flatten the curve of this virus. However as this situation has dragged on into, not weeks, but months and the covid 19 debate has become greatly intertwined in politics, our voluntary compliance needs to be re-evaluated. That is re-evaluated by us not by government. There is great debate over how serious this virus really is, or really isn't. There is debate on how should society in general respond to a virus situation like this. Politics have gotten involved with liberal and left wing government coming down pretty hard on the side of “more serious,” “more shutdown,” “more restrictions.”
In the midst of “more serious,” “more restrictions” Our constitutional and inalienable rights are being violated. That violation is deeply felt.
For two thousand years we have stayed open during natural disasters, through economic crashes, through persecution, and through times of war. We have a charter right to our freedom of religion and our freedom of peaceful assembly. We have an inalienable human right to practice our faith. We have watched secular civil government cross way over the red line that separates their authority from ours. We have been given a mission and a commission to fulfill. We are not willing to be shutdown, locked down or restricted in our duty to follow God. We are calling out our government for overreaching beyond its jurisdiction. We stand for the autonomy of the local church and for it's God-given right to operate. We have shown much patience but now our civic leaders have all of society stuck in a rut as they wrangle over the science and the politics of Covid 19. The patience is spent. The assembly of called out ones must assemble again without interference.
King James Version of the Holy Bible