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Propaganda 2019

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I know propaganda. As a mother grizzly knows her cubs, I know propaganda. And what I have in recent days witnessed is propaganda of the type that raises the hair at the back of my neck!
There are among us those who are attempting to destroy the very fabric of our nation. The propaganda they create is sleight of hand worthy of praise from the 20th century master of the trade, Joseph Goebbels.

I shall not follow their lead. Nor is it for me to judge. God alone owns that task. You and I, however, can and should reveal that which may lead us and others on a path to self-destruction. Allow me, then, to expose what others have concealed in a current video series. This series is The Family, a recent Netflix offering.

The Family is billed as a documentary. If it is a documentary, it is both incomplete and ill-informed. By choice? You decide.

Let’s begin with the Netflix description of The Family. “An enigmatic conservative Christian group known as the Family wields enormous influence in Washington, D.C., in pursuit of its global ambitions. Investigative journalists expose The Fellowship, a Christian fundamentalist organization quietly operating in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.”

Here is my characterization of The Family. This documentary is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine both the Biblical foundation of this Nation and our current President.

With that, let’s move to specifics. More than once a narrator makes a convoluted reference to Jesus and power. One such example: “Jesus says you must go to those who are in positions of power.”

Truth: Jesus said no such thing! Go ahead. Challenge me on that! What is the sole source for what Jesus did say? In fact, Jesus consistently modeled weakness, not power, as God’s preference for human behavior. “My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Another example: “If you are chosen (by God), it doesn’t matter what you do.”

Truth: This demonstrates complete ignorance of what the Bible records. Check Psalm 51 and ask yourself why David found those words necessary!

One more: “Who God cares about most is not the everyday people.”

Truth: This statement is absurd. It reflects nothing found within the Bible. A single reading of the Beatitudes refutes this moronic and demonic utterance.

Not yet convinced that Netflix is playing fast and loose with the Bible? Notice this from Episode 4:

“And it’s all scripturally based, Uh, Acts 9:15, you know, “Take my name, Jesus, to the Kings.”

Really? Let’s compare that quote to what the Bible actually says in Acts 9:15:

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Those who read the Bible will know that “this man” spoken of here is Saul shortly before he became the Apostle Paul. So Netflix scores a zero on Bible accuracy!

Before we continue, let’s review hallmarks of propaganda. Propaganda uses half-truth, omission of truth, and suppression of contrary views and actions to achieve its ends. To be most effective, propaganda uses just enough truth to mislead.

The Family features all of this, and more. We see both omission and suppression in this next example. In one episode – in an effort to reveal hypocrisy – the film reports details of two “fallen” political leaders. Two Republicans, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada U. S. Senator John Ensign, had both been revealed in sensational extramarital scandals.

These two cases receive abundant attention in The Family. To be fair, yes, the Bible itself reveals not a few such examples of “fallen” leaders. Moses killed. David was an adulterer and arranged the killing of Uriah. The first human parents were given a single rule. This they promptly violated. One of their sons murdered the other. The list goes on. Diligent Bible readers do not shirk the negative.

Omitted from the Netflix film, however, are the cases of North Carolina U.S. Senator John Edwards and U.S. President Bill Clinton, both Democrats. Edwards’ case was particularly egregious given his infidelity to his wife, Elizabeth, who was a terminally ill cancer patient. Clinton’s case besmirched not only his wife but the White House itself.

Yet, neither of these two Democrat “leaders” were mentioned in The Family ostensibly owing to their lack of participation in the Fellowship. This despite the fact that both had attended The National Prayer Breakfast, a centerpiece of this documentary on the Fellowship.

Netflix continues it erroneous reporting on the content of the Bible. Consider this example:

“I remember hearing them asking, what if Christ came not for the sheep but for the wolves? This becomes more articulated in this parable of the wolf king. The idea is that the leader of the pack is the most powerful figure. And you can go to the most powerful figure and you can pry open that door and say, let’s come alongside you. The movement sought out wolf kings around the world.”

Truth: The Bible has no “parable of the wolf king.” But that fact does not deter the Netflix narrative which states, “Doug Coe preaches a parable of the Wolf King.” Then they move right on to connect this non-existent parable to President Donald Trump:

“Now at last Trump, the wolf king, has arrived at home. And it doesn’t matter that he’s a believer. The wolf king likes strength and you’re going to put your strength alongside his.”

Truth: The Bible does record Paul speaking of wolves. Alert readers will recall this from Acts 20:

28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number, men will rise up and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them.

Are Paul’s words here prophetic? You decide.

In another instance, Netflix got the Bible quote almost correct yet still strikes a target other than truth. In this case by omission.

A quote attributed to Jeff Sessions: “I would cite Romans 13: “Obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government.”

I checked 29 translations of the Bible and came up with this from NIV:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

The Netflix production shows itself more than a few times to be specifically disturbed by the words “established” or “ordained” by God. Is this because some of today’s Christians choose to see President Trump as so ordained?

In this case, both Netflix and some Christians arrive at erroneous conclusions. Why? Because both fail to read Scripture with a Paul Harvey “rest of the story” approach.

Were they to do so, they might discover this. In the absence of evil there is no reason for free will! Evil regimes present the need for humans to make choices. Shall we trust God’s sovereignty, or do we consider ourselves as His equal? Hence, God permits, even encourages, evil leaders, as He did with Pharaoh of the time of Moses.

If we read the entirety of Romans 13 (to which Sessions refers) and all of Romans 9, we would discover that God clearly demands that we recognize His sovereignty!

Notice this from Romans 9:

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

The Netflix production does not take into account this factor of God’s sovereignty. Yes, God – clearly shown within the Bible – ordains leaders. His choice, His will, His sovereignty! And, yes, some of those so chosen will be or become evil.

So, back to the concept of free will. We humans have that gift, all of us. Why? We have it so that we can freely choose whether and how to respond to God and acknowledge both His love and
His sovereignty.

And this is precisely where the Netflix “Family” production reveals itself as propaganda. It selects from the Bible only what advances its cause.

In like fashion, a Netflix-granted interview with Religion News Service uses juxtaposition (one person in physical proximity to another) to suggest evil intent.

Example:
(Photo caption) Russians Mariia Butina and Alexander Torshin at the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast. President Trump later spoke from the podium in the background.

‘Spoke from the podium’? Surely, we see the problem here, right? President Trump did something potentially evil because he used the same podium two Russians used?

Now consider the portrayal of Doug Coe. One Religion News Service writer tells us, “Coe was the longtime head of the International Foundation, a secretive Christian organization known as The Fellowship and The Family, that was responsible for bringing together politicians, diplomats and presidents since Dwight Eisenhower to Washington each year on the first Thursday in February.”

That straightforward description – aside from the word ‘secretive’ – is counterbalanced by this description of Coe, “We see a man who is kind and we are willing to look away from a well-documented record of a person who, given the choice between power and a witness to the faith, chose power every single time.”

Here, the interviewer avoids mention that Coe’s “witness to the faith” is equally likely to be not a quest for power but a result of his adherence to this from Matthew 28:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….”

Truth? Again, you decide!

If Doug Coe’s goal was the accumulation of power, and given that he was successful –witness the National Prayer Breakfast – how is it that the record of his life shows no application of that power? The Netflix “Family” series does not address this omission!

Before concluding, allow me to offer a bit of icing to the cake. In researching this production, I came across an interview by Religion News Service Editor-in-Chief Bob Smietana. Being curious by nature, and having never heard of RNS, I decided to explore. I examined writers, articles, and, yes, a page identifying the organization’s Board of Managers.

Truth?

Of the six identified members of the board of Religion News Service, only one includes the word “Christianity” in the biographic statements. One board member states he “also serves as Communications Director for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.”

My curiosity radar activated itself. What, pray tell, is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for which this Religion News Service board member is communications director?

So I visited that web site. The result? The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) are Muslims who believe in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908).

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, I learned, claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus Christ as foretold by the Prophet Muhammad. This “Muslim Messiah” explains how the original teachings of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other world religions eventually converge into true Islam. Christianity converge into Islam?

So, what has all this to do with the Netflix “Family” series?

In fairness, I suppose the Religion News Service interview of the Netflix director of the series has as much to do with the “Family” as did President Trump speaking from a podium earlier used by two Russians at the National Prayer Breakfast. Am I, like Netflix, using “guilt” by proximity? You decide!

Finally, let’s return now to Episode 1 where our narrator tells us that the “Family” was a “group with tentacles around the world.” The words “vine” or “branch” would have served as well. But “tentacles” has a more sinister ring to it. That choice is another of the tools of propaganda. The tool? Connotation. Right out of Joseph Goebbels’ toolbox! Connotation changes a neutral word into a potentially negative one.

Now you may see why early in this article, I said: This documentary is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine both the Biblical foundation of this Nation and our current President. Both the Bible and the President are seriously abused by this Netflix production.

Need more convincing? Netflix frequently speaks of secrecy as if everything secret is worthy of suspicion. Go ahead! Count the words “secret” and “secretive” within the series.
By my definition “The Family” is propaganda.

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Opinion

The next days of staying at home

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Working from home is not new to me. Although I like seeing people and talking and visiting, I frequently spend solo time in my little study to think and to write. My most recent book, A WARRIOR OF MANY FACES, went online at Amazon and Kindle on Thanksgiving Day, 2019.

Recently I came upon a quote from the late English humorist and writer, Jerome K. Jerome. I was actually looking for quotes for a book I’m working on when I came across the following: “It is impossible to enjoy idling unless there is plenty of work to do.” Written by Mr. Jerome many years ago, the quote could almost fit today. It is so strange to be asked to stay at home. But we all know that “social distancing” and working from home is going to be the way we must be, at least until this recent health crisis is over. The Rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh ( the site of a terrible shooting) tells us online that he would like to see us all use the terms “physical distancing and social connecting”.

I’m lucky too in a way. I love spending time with my housemate and wife, Bryane, a beautiful and talented writer and artist. Even though it is only the two of us (plus our tuxedo cat, Baby), I’m never bored around her. So, a voluntary or even compelled lock-in is not the worst thing.

Another quote from Jerome could easily have been written today. “I like work. I can sit and look at it for hours.” I know the feeling. Sometimes I sit and think about what I am writing and how to put it in words. Finally, I do get something on paper, but from now on I’ll also think of Mr. Jerome. I wonder what he might have to say as he looks at people all over Virginia, America and the world forced to sit at home and many people even being paid to be idle. Ironic isn’t it that Jerome K. Jerome died in 1927.

Let’s all try to make the most of being home. I know I will.

Charles “Chips” Lickson, JD, Ph.D.     
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Just thanks for keeping the community informed

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This is a really tough time for the publishing industry as ad volume is on the downswing. Your on-line service to the local community who cannot afford paid subscriptions is an especially important link to accurate information about the COVID-19 public health crisis.

And frankly, everyone in Warren County owes the Royal Examiner and its editorial staff a huge thank you for the hard questions asked that led to the uncovering of the EDA scandal. Without those hard questions, Warren County residents would not have known the extent of the harm done to our community.

So thank you to the publisher, Mike McCool, to the reporters and editorial staff. In my opinion, you are all heroes who are doing their best to serve the community.

Rea Howart

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Opinion

A very interesting way with words

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Our Interim Town Manager, Matt Tederick, has a very interesting way with words. The way he can skirt around an issue is a huge criterion of the game of politics. He has mastered this very well.

An example of this is in the article from the Royal Examiner titled, (Council poised for a decision on the CDBG pavilion project despite added costs). Mr. Tederick states, (needless to say we’ve had some challenges with the CDBG in general. One of those challenges was the approval of amendments to bylaws to address personnel changes in the Facade Advisory Board).

Here is where Mr. Tedericks skill comes in to play. He states several members got off the board, we have to add new members. What he doesn’t say is, these several members are the town employees he fired. If this isn’t skirting around an issue, I don’t know what is. This amendment to the bylaws would make him the program’s Grant Administrator, another role added to his list. It would also make Director of Finance B.J Wilson as the Assistant Project Manager and Chris Brock who is Interim Planning and Zoning Director as Project Manager.

It seems Mr. Wilson has become Mr. Tederick’s go-to guy lately on several issues. But then again, like every other town employee, I’m sure he is afraid for his job. Becoming the next victim on Mr. Tederick’s list is not part of Mr. Wilson’s agenda.

Also in this article is the funding issue for the pavilion. Since the construction estimate has increased from $140,000 to $283.349., this leaves a difference of $143.349. This would be split 50/50 by the state and the town or $75,000 each. The Town Council seems poised to give Mr. Tederick the okay to spend this $75,000 even though it is not in this year’s budget.

This kind of action seems to me there is a lack of financial understanding and competency from Mr. Tederick and the Town Council. With the economic instability we now face, and will face for several years to come, it doesn’t take an economist to know we should be using less money from this year’s budget and moving more money to future budgets. Is spending now and not looking into the future Mr. Tedericks and Town Council members’ way of doing their personnel finances? One would think not.

On a different note, several weeks ago Mr. Tederick stated the Council should consider an assistant Town Manager due to the workload of the Town Manager. I assumed the workload of being Town Manager and running who knows how many LLC’s, Mr. Tedericks workload would be too great. So why has he taken on other roles if his workload is so great?

Let’s count them.

1 – Interim Town Manager

2 – Grant Administrator

3 – FOIA Officer

4 – Town Director of Emergency Management

5 – Running his multiple LLC’s.

Absurdity to its highest level. I do believe we may be in the presence of a real-life superhero. At least according to the Town Council. And so goes the Front Royal saga of destruction.

Paul Gabbert
Front Royal

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Opinion

The Cross: Gift from the Savior

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But how? Understand that the Savior of mankind had to be more than just a man; otherwise, man would be saving himself, and that is impossible. Clearly then, the Savior had to be God! For again, only God can forgive sin and save sinners. Jesus spoke to the absolute necessity to see and believe this truth when He said, “…if ye believe not that I am He (God), ye shall die in your sins.” (Jn. 8:24) Meaning to be cast from God’s presence and light into eternal darkness and damnation. Jesus also said, “…I am come that they might have life…” (eternal life) (Jn. 10:10), which He gives by dying in our place on the Cross! Jesus was saying to the Jews that in spite of their Covenant history, they did not have life and were dead (lost) UNTIL HE CAME! Note that this lost, hopeless state applies to Gentiles also; indeed, to all people of the world.

To help believe that Jesus was the God-Man on the Cross, consider the definition of Incarnate: Embodied in flesh, esp. human form. Also consider Incarnation: 1. The assumption of Jesus Christ of bodily form. 2. The bodily form assumed by a deity.

Jesus Christ, as a man, did not exist before being born of Mary. In this regard, God said, “…thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” ( Heb.1:5) Please note there is no separation between Jesus as man and Jesus as God! So as the Incarnation reveals, the Creator Father God dwelt with His creation as the begotten God-Man (flesh), Jesus Christ! And, thereby, entered the blood line of mankind. In so doing, He shed His own blood as a sacrifice for mankind’s sin!

ENTER: God’s Lamb, The Lamb Of God!

Cries for a Savior were answered at the Cross. The King of the Jews, the King of Israel; yeah, the Eternal Father God who said, “…I am the first and the last, and beside me there is no God.” (Isa. 44:6), was buying back what was lost to Him to establish a holy nation and an everlasting kingdom! Being fully (100%) man and fully (100%) God, Jesus as a man died, but Jesus as God did not. So the 100% God (Jesus) raised up the 100% man (Jesus) from the dead with a new and glorified body!

Jesus, speaking in the first person singular as a man and as God said: “…destroy this temple (kill me) and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn. 2:19). By saying “I will”, Jesus is saying He is God, for it shows Him present (alive) in the past, present and future at once (the same time), having no constraints as to time or space. Existing not only from the “beginning”, but from everlasting! So, He is alive as God while dead as a man, and is speaking from all time frames because His is an uninterrupted and never-ending life!

So, because of His glorious resurrection, I can shout with the song writer who said, “He’s alive… He’s alive and I’m forgiven. Heaven’s gates are open wide!” Eternal thanksgiving to my Lord and praises to the Darling of Heaven; and oh that I could bow before Him and kiss His lovely feet!

His message? I love you. My life, death and resurrection in your place for your life. So respond with the hymnal writer who said, ” I am coming Lord to thee, dear Lamb of Calvary. Humbly at thy cross I bow. Save me Jesus, save me now.”


Reverend Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Christ is alive, He is living today

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“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” – John 21:25

The Season of Easter is the high point of the Christian Church year. Traditionally, worshipers participate in an extended feast wherein the paschal candle is lit at every service as a sign of the risen Christ. Scripture readings highlight every Christian’s connection to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The scripture readings proclaim the power of the resurrection that gives strength in suffering, unity in diversity, consolation in sorrow, perseverance in adversity and faith in times of doubt. On this, the holiest day of the year and for the entire Season of Easter, many Christian’s greet each other with the words, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!”

Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead is one of the principal doctrines of the gospel.

If Christ be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). The essential New Testament revelation balances on this as a historical fact. On the day of Pentecost, Peter argued the necessity of Christ’s resurrection from the prediction in Psalm 16 (Acts 2:24-28). Christ also clearly prophesied his resurrection (Matthew 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19-22). Thus we can preach that Jesus is alive; that He has risen as He said He would and that He is the Son of God as He claimed to be. Christ is alive! He is living today.

The Bible informs us that Jesus did appear many times after his death and resurrection:

  • The empty tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 1-10, Mark 16: 1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, John 20: 1-9.
  • To Mary Magdalene at the garden – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 9-11, John 20: 11-18.
  • To other women, “the other Mary,” Salome, Joanna, and others, as they returned from the tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 9-10.
  • To Simon Peter alone – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 34, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
  • To the two disciples going to Emmaus – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 12-13, Luke 24: 13-32.
  • To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) in the upper room – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 36-43, John 20: 19-25.
  • To the disciples again (Thomas being present) – Following Sunday – Mark 16: 14, John 20: 26-31, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
  • To seven disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee – sometime later – John 21: 1-23.
  • To the eleven at an appointed place in Galilee – sometime later – Matthew 28: 16-20, Mark 16: 15-18.
  • More than 500 brethren – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 6.
  • To James, but under unknown circumstances – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 7.
  • To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet and there they saw him ascend “till a cloud received him out of their sight” – Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection – Luke 24: 44-49, Acts 1: 3-8.

In addition to the above appearances, Christ will return by way of vision and appear to Stephen, several times to Paul, and finally to John to give him the final Revelation:

  • Paul at Damascus, speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Savior – several years later – Acts 9: 1-19, 22: 3-16, 26: 9-18, 1 Corinthians 9: 1, 15: 8.
  • Paul tells us in Galatians 1:17 that he went immediately into Arabia and then returned to Damascus and three years after his transforming vision of Jesus, he went up to Jerusalem to see the Apostles. During Paul’s 3 years in Arabia he received the Gospel from the Lord (Galatians 1:11-17). He made a visit to the Throne of God (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) where he saw things he was not permitted to reveal. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, when Paul recounted all the Lord’s post resurrection appearances, he included himself as one who had seen Him. So, at some point, he apparently did have a physical meeting with the Lord.
  • Stephen in his dying vision saw “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” – sometime later – Acts 7: 55-56.
  • John of Patmos experienced a vision of the resurrected Christ described in Revelation – many years later – Revelation 1: 12-20.

It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may have been other appearances of which we have no record.

2 Corinthians 13 cites that, “in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses every word shall be established.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ has been established as fact. The scriptures tell us of the many appearances of Christ and the witnesses who experienced the events encompassing the resurrection. In Christ we can be confident of our salvation and in Christ we can be confident of our own resurrection.

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” We should find the assurance of our salvation in the truth of God’s Word. We should have trust that we are saved based on the promises God has declared.

A final note: Ephesians 5:13-15

Children of Light

13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.


Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia

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Opinion

The Governor, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Constitution

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In the struggle against COVID-19, policymakers are balancing the health of the people they serve against other important things: work, family life, education, social gatherings, religious worship, and liberty. These things, while they are not life itself, are, to most, at least part of what gives life its joy and flavor. They are the things that liberty, which was at the heart of the Revolution that gave us the Commonwealth of Virginia, serve and make possible.

On Tuesday of last week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 53, which he augmented with Executive Order 55 on Monday of this week. Together these efforts represent his Administration’s balance between liberty and the spread of a communicable disease.

His orders ban both public and private gatherings of more than ten people and ban leaving the house except for certain approved purposes. He makes violations of these orders punishable by fines and jail time. In doing so, he exempts some gatherings from the decrees, declaring them “essential.” While his list of “essential” activities includes the operations of the media and the government, it does not include religious services.

Virginia is now living in a strange reality where, by two strokes of his pen, the governor has essentially criminalized the everyday life of Virginians. Work, family gatherings, education, graduations, and the worship of Almighty God, could get you fined or thrown in jail. Virginians should think long and hard about that.

One thing that most Virginians will be quick to realize is that such threats are overkill. The vast majority of people (including me) have accepted that the pandemic has made social distancing a prudent course of action for a time, until conditions are more favorable to combat the disease, and are willing to accept the guidance of experts on the matter. Most religious congregations, including my own, are strictly following these guidelines and have canceled public in-person gatherings. Even the smallest and most vulnerable businesses are heeding the advice of public health experts and are closing, with their owners and employees remaining at home.

Most Virginians, however, will sense that something more than just overkill is in play, and they would be correct. In Virginia, which was founded on the idea of popular sovereignty, and is governed according to a Constitution that protects our personal liberty, the Governor cannot go as far as he has. It is not possible to reconcile these Orders with the text of the Constitution they invoke, which protects the right to peaceably assemble (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 12) and the free exercise of religion (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 16).

The most a government that respects its constitutional limitations can do is offer a strong recommendation, back it up with compelling arguments grounded in the best learning on the topic, and repeat it. It crosses a bright ontological line—one that people have died to draw—to go from offering a recommendation to issuing an order, one that the Executive will enforce with fines and jail time. This is especially the case when there is no need for imposing such measures on people who are behaving this way anyway.

Instead, with these orders, the Governor has needlessly complicated his response to the pandemic by taking reasonable, life-saving health guidance and turning it into a crusade against civil society. He has heaped both a constitutional and moral crisis on top of the existing health and economic crises. He has created a necessity for vigilant citizens to work to defend the constitution while trying to stay healthy and financially solvent.

When our forefathers enshrined in the Constitution the freedom to peaceably assemble and the right to the Free Exercise of religion, they did so knowing that these freedoms would come under attack, and had wisdom deep enough to know that this was most likely to occur during a crisis. Where there is tension between measures intended to protect life and the liberty to enjoy it, our Constitution has already struck a clear balance. It does not guarantee us perfect health or freedom from disease; it guarantees us liberty. If that is unsatisfactory to some, they must change the Constitution.

Hopefully reason will prevail with the Governor, and he will revise his approach. If he does not, the people will have an obligation to work to reverse his decrees.

A health crisis, however severe, is no excuse to trample the Constitution. In some respects, the willingness of Virginians to take the measures necessary to protect their health makes this an easy case. If the Governor does not readjust his approach, however, the situation will escalate, causing unnecessary controversy and risk. The Governor has an obligation to work harder to strike a balance that heeds the Constitution.

Scott Lloyd is an attorney from Front Royal, Virginia.

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