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From the Pastor's Desk

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Good Morning Pioneer Baptist!

"We have to find a different way to worship," Murphy said.

Who is Murphy and what is he talking about? The “Murphy” is New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and his comment came during conversation with Fox news host Tucker Carlson. You see, on April 1st, fourteen of the mourners who attended the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Moshe Strulovic, a revered rabbi, were cited for failing to disperse and thus violating the regulation adopted by Governor Murphy during our national state of emergency. One man, Samuel Manheim, who, according to news reports refused to give his correct name and social security number, and who became unruly, was arrested.

So Tucker had the Governor on his program, and said this: “The Bill of Rights, as you well know, protects Americans' rights — enshrines their right to practice their religion as they see fit and to congregate together to assemble peacefully. By what authority did you nullify the Bill of Rights in issuing this order? How do you have the power to do that?" To which the Governor answered, “That's above my pay grade. I wasn't thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this."

And there is the crux of the matter. Every person entrusted with political leadership should be thinking about the Bill of Rights every time they make rules restricting it. This is not “above” their pay grade, it “is” their pay grade! It is generally accepted that in times of national emergency, the rights guaranteed citizens in the Bill of Rights can be restricted, but we had better be circumspect in doing so! Never forget the government’s internment of American citizens of Japanese descent in World War II, which was arguably one of the most shameful blights on our history. I say “arguably” because some might argue a different

abuse of power. The U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1, (Importation of Slaves) says the following: “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person." (Explanation: This clause relates to the slave trade. It prevented Congress from restricting the importation of slaves before 1808. It did allow Congress to levy a duty of up to 10 dollars for each slave. In 1807, the international slave trade was blocked and no more slaves were allowed to be imported legally into the United States. Slavery was still legal, however, within the United States until the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865.) Hmmm….., I’m not sure we can always trust the wisdom of even our finest leaders. The Bill of Rights absolutely, positively, meant absolutely nothing to African Slaves!

My point is this: the government, including the Supreme Court, is not always right! And when the government forbids us to attend a funeral for a loved one, or cites us for sitting in our own car and listening to a preacher preach over a bullhorn in the church parking lot, let’s not assume they know what they’re doing. Governors and Mayors and Presidents need power to administrate, but they are not kings. There must be a balance. Americans are not completely stupid. Meetings should be held wisely, but if we can observe social distancing at Home Depot, why can’t we do the same at Pioneer Baptist Church? And why should any Governor decree that we can buy “weed” to get high on, but not “grass seed to beat the weed”? You can “paint the town red” but you “cannot buy paint to paint your living room red.” Why not? Because the Governor says so!

Some things do not make sense, and a Governor professing that understanding the significance of our Constitutional individual liberties is “above his paygrade,” is one of those things that makes no sense whatsoever. The Governor should refuse to receive his pay and step down, if understanding the Bill of Rights is really above his paygrade.

"We have to find a different way to worship," Murphy said. But God says “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24 KJV)

Love and Prayers to you all,


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