Misguided Officials Using COVID to Attack Churches

Apr 7, 2020

Pastors being arrested even when they obey state and local orders.

Many churches and individual believers are finding that whether they obey shut-down and social distancing directives or not, misguided governors and some law enforcement officers are using the COVID-19 virus as an excuse to arrest pastors and punish pro-lifers.

  • In Charlotte, NC, 8 people (two below the 10-person limit) were arrested for praying in front of an abortion clinic. Meanwhile, much larger groups of frisbee players and picnickers in a nearby park were unapproached by police.
  • In San Francisco, CA, police ticketed 86-year-old Ronald Konopaski who was praying by himself on the public sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic.
  • In Tampa, FL, the pastor of The River Church – which feeds 900 impoverished families every week – was arrested even though the sheriff had already given him "permission" to open the church.
  • In New York City, Mayor de Blasio threatened to permanently close any church or synagogue that does not shut down for Passover and Easter.
  • In Washington State, some pastors are being told they cannot drive to the church to broadcast their Easter messages.
  • The Democrat governor in Kentucky is threatening to arrest a 77-year old pastor who has served his church for 52 years because he had 60 people spread far-and-wide in a 700-seat sanctuary this past Sunday. Yet, libraries and shopping malls are apparently more "essential."


Keep in mind that things like abortion clinics, hardware stores, craft stores and even tattoo shops remain open in most cities. Yet abortion mills, garden hoses or tattoos are not lifesaving services… but the Gospel of Christ IS lifesaving and for that reason alone, America’s churches are essential!

In a statement to local news organizations, the elderly gentlemen ticketed and threatened with arrest defended his sidewalk praying as the ultimate "essential service." Mr. Konapaski said, "Once they [expectant mothers] get inside, they’re only offered one option and that’s an abortion. And so, we’re outside, to try to give them another choice that they can keep their baby and we can help them with any problems they have."

Although not a pastor, Mr. Konapaski’s comments not only bear on the pro-life battle, but they also define the very essence of a church -- to take Christ where others do not. To feed those who have no food. To provide comfort and safety in a storm. These are, unquestionably, "essential services."

And that brings us to the crux of this constitutional issue – who is the government to decide for the church, and for the church’s members, about what is or is not "essential"?


I contend that the saving grace of Jesus Christ, the freedom to proclaim this Good News and the ability of the pastoral shepherds and their sheep to provide services of comfort, care and prayer, ARE the very definition of an essential service.

Granted, some churches can boil their entire ministry down to a podcast, but churches that truly serve their communities – through public prayer, food banks, abortion counseling and hands-on family support in times of crisis – cannot turn off the lights and resort to being just a podcast!

Meanwhile, in every case we listed above, local law enforcement and elected leaders have defended their unconstitutional and illegal actions – even when those arrests violate the terms of the local shut-down orders, as was the case in Florida and North Carolina. There, the church members followed every guideline including 6-foot spacing and limiting groups to less than ten people.

In the Florida case, the sheriff specifically told the pastor it was OK to hold services if he followed the guidelines. That very same sheriff arrested the pastor three days later… for following the very guidelines the sheriff and county had asked him to follow!

Right now, we are not only facing a war on our Constitution, we are facing a war on THE CHURCH. We must defend both or lose both.

Select here to fax ALL 50 governors NOW for just $5 – Tell them to LEAVE OUR CHURCHES ALONE!

Certainly, everyone should exercise care and caution to protect the public’s health. And certainly, elderly and at-risk people should consider self-quarantining for protection. However, we cannot place a blanket shut- down on all 500,000 churches in America!

Yes, follow health guidelines. But let the shepherds have some discretion on what ministries can be broadcast online and what cannot. A single government official should not make this decision for every church in his or her jurisdiction while allowing a host of other secular activities.

Easter is coming.  In just a few short days we will celebrate the culmination of God’s promise to us, the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Will we quietly hand over our churches and the constitutional right to assemble and worship to arbitrary government decision-makers?

Easter is coming.

Do not let it be the first Easter in U.S. history on which every church has been forced to close.

1 Chronicles 7:14 tells us, "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Raise your voice now and let the governors hear from you!

In Christ,

Mat Staver
Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel


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