More Wins For Churches Against Covid Orders – With Mat Staver: Does the interest of the government to protect health ever outweigh the Constitution? Can people make good decisions apart from government? Why aren’t churches considered essential? Tune in to hear what is being done to protect our foundational freedoms on this Foundations of Freedom program!
Air Date: 05/21/2020
Guest: Mat Staver
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think they’re not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live and it’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, that’s the one day a week that we really dive into those foundational principles. Well, we really do that every day of the week. I guess. This is all about biblical, historical and constitutional perspective on the issues that matter most, the issues that are hot in the news, but also that are impacting your life.
And so today, we’re actually going to do a Foundations of Freedom Thursday with a special guest, Mat Staver from Liberty Counsel, LC.org is the website and these guys, I’m telling you, they are on the front lines, they are winning victory after victory in defeating unconstitutional orders from governors and local entities. So, really excited to have Mat Staver with us today for our Foundations of Freedom Thursday.
Now, before we jump into our interview, we want to encourage you to visit our website wallbuilderslive.com, that is the place to learn more about the radio program. Myself, I’m Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. David Barton is America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders.
Tim Barton is a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. So you can find out more about all three of us there at the website, you can get a list of all of our stations across the country and most importantly, you can make that contribution that makes this show possible. So, be sure to click on that contribute button, make that one-time or monthly contribution and thank you much for coming alongside us.
Well, Mat Staver, thanks for your time today. Man, I know you are busy, you’ve got cases going all over the country. Thanks for standing firm. You’ve already won several cases, in fact, during these COVID crackdowns to defend pastors and churches. Catch us up a little bit on, kind of where you’re at, you got Kentucky, I think Virginia, Maine, you got cases going all over, what are some of the main cases you’re dealing with?
Yeah, we have cases going all over. At one time, we’re working with pastors and up to 40 states. Some of the states, of course, have relaxed their restrictions. Florida, Texas, other states have and more coming are on line, but there’s a lot of states that are still very restrictive. One thing they have in common, is a democrat governor that is very proabortion. So, if they don’t respect life, they don’t respect freedom.
We have litigation right now going on in Virginia, Maine, in Kentucky and Illinois and other places are on the docket for the future. But again, we’re working with literally hundreds and hundreds, maybe even thousands of thousands of pastors all over the country.
In Kentucky, we did win twice at the Federal Court of Appeals. It’s the only Court of Appeals decision in the country. In fact, we have two of them now at the same Court of Appeals on behalf of Maryville Baptist Church, which ruled in favor, first, on a Saturday afternoon issue in the decision for parking lot services, saying that banning parking lot services violated the First Amendment in Kentucky and then the following Saturday again afternoon, ruling in favor us again on the First Amendment for in-person services. So, we’ve had some very good success at the Court of Appeals there and that sets good precedent around the nation as well.
Well, speaking of those, even those drive-in services, so I think that surprised a lot of people around the country, that the governor would not even want them to be able to meet in their cars. I remember, a mayor in Kentucky actually saying something to the effect of no worship at all. That was one of the things that really caught my attention like, wow, if they’re even saying no worship under any circumstance, we’ve got an issue. So, but you guys were on that from the very beginning?
Maryville Baptist Church
We were and in fact, the governor said no worship both inside the church, zero and no parking lot services. And so, on Good Friday, he threatened to send police officers to every parking lot in the State where there might be a church service taking place, including these parking lot services. And he sent the State troopers to the Maryville Baptist Church just outside of Lowe .
And they gave notices of quarantine and criminal violations to those that were in their car, still in their cars for the parking lot service. And that ultimately resulted in the governor a few days later, this happened, by the way on Easter, on Easter. And they then received a letter from the governor a few days later demanded that they all go into quarantine, that they couldn’t leave the county without permission of the governor and that they had to take their temperature at the same time every day and report that temperature to the County Board of Health.
That’s when we ultimately filed suit. The Obama Judge originally denied our request for an injunction, we appealed that emergency before the Court of Appeals got a three to zero decision on the parking lot services and a week later got a three to zero decision on in-person services. So, it’s a great decision, great victory for this church.
This is a 77-year-old pastor who has a very strong conviction to be able to continue worship. He’s going to be very cautious and respect health and take health precautions and hygiene and social distancing. But he got a lot of pushback from the medium and even from other pastors that just simply said, you just stay closed. This 77-year-old pastor said no, enough is enough. The government doesn’t have jurisdiction to stop worship and direct the form of worship. And he stood strong, willing to be arrested. He himself got one of these notices of quarantine and as a result of his stand, now every church in Kentucky is free to worship.
It’s shocking to me that they were literally given notice of quarantine to people that they had no evidence whatsoever had come in contact with anyone with the virus. Quarantine is supposed to be for those who have come in contact with the sick and isolation is for the sick. They’re doing this to healthy people.
They’re doing it to healthy people that remained in their cars, didn’t even get out of their cars. These same people could have driven just within minutes of the church to the nearest liquor store, the Walmart, Kmart Home Depot, they could have jammed the parking lot, they could have turned on the Christian radio and listen to a message online right there with absolutely no problem. But because they were parked in a church’s parking lot, that alone was the reason the governor targeted them on Easter, no less and demanded that they go into quarantine.
As a result of that, when they came back to work on Monday and Tuesday, some of the people in their employment said, don’t you attend Maryville Baptist Church? And when they responded yes, with no further information, knowing that anybody who was there that Easter weekend would have gotten the notice of quarantine, these were either furloughed, some of them received notices of termination, people who have worked for these employers for quite some time. So, it has had serious ramifications.
And that’s exactly what the governor wanted to do. He wanted to intimidate, stigmatize and literally crushed churches and the right of individuals to worship freely, even in parking lots. Then he bragged after we filed suit and we appealed this case to the Court of Appeals that he would win this case. Well, he’s lost it time and time again. And the Court of Appeals issued a very strong decision. And they actually ended up saying that they will not let the Constitution sleep through a pandemic. And they ruled that this was an unconstitutional violation of unequal treatment to these religious gatherings in churches compared to the secular gatherings and other secular corporations and public locations.
I think that was my second favorite line from the decision, was we’re not going to let the Constitution sleep. My favorite was that they actually quoted the Bible. So, Mat, that’s a double great victory. You got a Court of Appeals, a federal Court of Appeals to quote the Bible.
Justice Quoted the Bible
They quoted the Bible. They had some really good statements in their decision and they quoted from the Gospel of Matthew, where two or three are gathered together. Then they quoted that Scripture. They also said that there’s no greater risk for someone to walk down a grocery aisle than to walk down a pew or passive pew, there’s no greater risk to encounter [inaudible] door than to go into a place and watch what they said, a stoic preacher, which is kind of an interesting phrase. But they, I think, had some fun with this. But they also had great decision on the law and they also quoted the Scripture. It is a wonderful opinion. I encourage people to read it.
It almost sounds like common sense coming from an appellate court here in America where there’s not much common sense right now. Let’s talk a little bit about the law itself and kind of the constitutional test that you’re dealing with in all these cases. Because I don’t think you’re saying, I don’t think any of us are saying, government has no role. We’re just saying that when they have this, what we call compelling interest, are they doing this the right way, are they doing a narrowly tailored, least restrictive way? Walk us through that a little bit and how you’re assessing that when you see these cases coming in?
Well, the best illustration is to look at the scale of justice. And on one side is the Constitution, in this case, it’s the First Amendment, but there’s other constitutional rights as well. On the other side is the government’s interest. The interest of the government will become heavier, more weighty dependent upon the situation. And certainly, it’s more weighty, it has a greater interest to protect health during a pandemic, no question about that. No one is questioning it. But it never outweighs the constitutional right.
The Constitution Has No Pause Button
Constitutional right doesn’t have a pause button. There’s no temporary exemption that it goes into hibernation during a pandemic or any other crisis, it always exists. So, you have to balance that right with the government’s interest. And the way you do that is you look at the least restrictive means to achieve the interest. The interest is wanting to protect health and safety. So, let’s look at how they protect health and safety outside of a church.
Well, they have a whole list of categories that they call Essential. In that Essential category, they actually include the killing of babies in abortion clinics, which is absolutely horrendous. And they also include liquor stores, Walmart, Kmart, the big bucks centers, the super centers, grocery stores, of course, and many others. So, hardware stores and other places, they don’t tell you how many people you can have in the parking lot. And many places don’t even tell you that you have to socially distance.
So, when you go to these stores, you always see the parking lots full and you walk in and people are everywhere and they’re doing that seven days a week. Well, if they do that to the secular places of gathering, why is it more risky to walk past a pew? And that was the point of the court decision. It’s no more risky to walk down a grocery aisle, in fact, it’s less risky to walk down the grocery aisle and put your hand on the same door someone else just did than to walk down a pew, where they can actually incorporate into their worship service, the hygiene and social distancing.
And frankly, many of the churches that are opening and have opened, they’re much more careful than what you see in the secular areas. So, if they can protect health and safety in these secular areas, why are they treating churches differently? That’s the real problem. That shows you that the restriction on churches is not the least restrictive, it’s not narrowly tailored and that’s why it’s unconstitutional.
You know, we, churches had this figured out a long time ago. We’ve had the big buckets of hand sanitizer out front for a long time in most of our church. So, we’ve been trying to be, you know, smart about viruses and that sort of thing for a long time. It seems like just a lack of faith in people to make wise decisions. It’s almost a government mentality that we have to take care of you and keep you from harming yourself? Your thoughts on that when we come back. Mat Staver, our special guests. Stay with us. It’s Foundation to Freedom Thursday right here on WallBuilders Live.
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against all hazards and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks”
Hey friends, this is Rick Green from WallBuilders Live and I have had so many requests about what in the world could we be studying at home right now? You know, I got the kids at home, they’re normally in school. Or if you homeschool, you’re looking for additional material. One-Room Schoolhouse. It is a great new series WallBuilders is putting out where you literally get a tour of the WallBuilders library as Tim Barton and Jonathan Ritchie bring history to life. There’s a couple of resources on this.
You can go to YouTube and search for WallBuilders and look for One-Room Schoolhouse. You can go to our Facebook page and get it right there on Facebook as we do it live each Monday and sometimes additional days from there. And then you can also just go to wallbuilders.com, scroll down to the bottom and we’ll be posting the videos as they come out. This is such a great way to learn and a great way for you to share with others. Gather the family around, watch the One-Room Schoolhouse and learn some great history. It’ll be vitally important to restoring our nation and bringing back these principles that made America great in the first place. Check it out One- Room Schoolhouse at wallbuilders.com.
Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then let no more be heard of confidence in man that bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, Foundations of Freedom here on WallBuilders Live. Mat Staver with us from Liberty Counsel, LC.org is the website one of the organizations we’ve teamed up with for the Know Your Rights Campaign. And you can learn more about that at constitutioncoach.com. That’s the place to go for some quick answers on quarantines in the Constitution, what you can do. If you need legal help will connect you with Mat and some of these other great attorneys on the frontlines. Mat, before the break, we were talking about the fact that government just doesn’t trust people to be able to make good decisions and not allow these churches to do what they do best. They’ll take care of their people, they care about their people.
With Regards to Churches
Well, it certainly is that with regards to churches, I think it’s that way in general. But with regards to churches, they just consider them not to be essential. Liquor stores, they say are essential. Churches are not and yet churches are the most essential. In fact, whether it’s a liquor store or Walmart home depot, Kmart, Lowe’s, whatever it may be the super centers, the big box centers, they do not have a constitutional right to even exist, whereas churches have two clauses in the First Amendment that guarantees them the right to exist.
The free exercise of Religion Clause and I emphasize that free exercise, that’s activity of religion. And then they also have the Establishment Clause that government cannot establish a religion. And that’s exactly what it does when it dictates that the time and the manner and the form and the details of your worship. Government has no right. The line is drawn there and government can’t cross that. Churches have a right, not to just be treated equally and that’s essentially what we’re arguing that they need to at minimum be treated equally, but they actually have a preferential right. And it’s the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
You know, I’ve heard some people say, well, you know, why can’t you just meet online? This is getting to the point after two months that you really are forsaking the fellowship. There’s certain, you know, specific parts of doctrine or the way that these churches say, this is who we are as a faith. If we can’t take communion together, if we can’t fellowship together, if we can’t embrace, I mean, these are things that matter to the church and so we really are violating their free exercise.
Well, the scripture says in Hebrew 10, do not forsake the coming together the fellowship, the assembling of yourselves together as is the practice of some and it’s now it says even more important than ever, and it certainly is during this pandemic. And it also talks about baptism, the Lord’s supper, none of that can be done online.
Laying on of Hands
So, when you’re communicating with someone and you want to put your hand on someone’s shoulder and pray for them, because they’re going through death, disease, depression, anxiety, all different other kinds of uncertainty, darkness in their life, that is important. We even see in the Scriptures, the laying on of hands is important.
But also, some places don’t have access to online, like the church that we represent in Virginia, Lighthouse Fellowship. That church does not have internet and many of the members it serves do not have any internet or smart tablets or devices to be able to go online. So, when the church’s lights go off and the doors closed, they have no alternative. And in Virginia, on Palm Sunday, they had 16 people inside a 293 seat sanctuary, only 6 people over Governor Northam’s magic number of 10.
And as a result of that, police officers came and they charged the pastor with a criminal misdemeanor, the punishment is up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. These officers then threatened to the rest of the 15 people that were there, in addition to the pastor, that if they returned the next weekend for Easter, they would all get the same treatment. They were so terrified, they did not have any Easter and they had no alternative. For some of these people in that church, they’ve come out of prostitution, drug addiction, they need the family fellowship to continue in their path of recovery. For them, the church is their only family and when those doors are closed, they have no access to family.
I have a hard time thinking of anything more essential than for them to be able to have that fellowship. And I’m trying to picture this. So, you’ve got a place that seats 293, I mean 16 people in there, everybody is got their own pew, I always wanted to have my own pew. But everybody is got their own view.
They have several pews. It’s amazing how small of a group that is for 293 seat sanctuary. And so, they could more than socially…
There came in a criminal complaint against this pastor?
For having 16 people, 6 people over the governor’s magic divined numbers, so to speak of 10. Now, where does that come from? Who knows? Comes from out of his head and from somebody else. And he says no more than 10. You can have no limit on these other big commercial operations or liquor stores. Even you can line up shoulder to shoulder outside of an abortion clinic with no social distancing and go in there to kill a child, an innocent human being.
But the churches, no, he says you’re not essential and you really don’t have any right to exist. Well, I’m sorry, they do have a right to exist and they’re more essential than the government gives them credit for. I think churches have always been essential, no doubt. This is the Church of Jesus Christ that says the gates of hell will not prevail against it and it’s more essential now than ever before.
And that’s a State, now Virginia, you know, he was one of the first ones to say we’re going to stay closed all the way into June. I’m assuming he’s got no check and balance on him right now. The legislative bodies having no voice.
I mean, here we are for several months with one person in most States making these decisions by themselves, no checks and balances, no separation of powers. It’s part of why I think, you know, they’ve got this almost God-complex at this point and no one’s holding them accountable to it. Except you guys, you guys are doing it through the judicial branch.
The Wisconsin Case
Right. And there’s a case in out of Wisconsin where some Republicans sued the Democratic governor because he was doing the same thing. They’re all doing the same thing. Once they taste the power, they want more power and more control. They continue to tantalize you that they’re going to give you security, it’s for your own good. We’re going to give you security, but you need to give us all of your liberty. And if no one stops them, they continue to go.
In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the governor doesn’t have that kind of authority. And they have to coordinate that now with the legislature and have some balance and additional input and give and take, some debate in this issue rather than these governors. And I’ve seen them over and over again, I’ve seen thousands of these kinds of orders, where they just print them off and they send them out. They don’t even think about the Constitution. In fact, the governor of New Jersey, when asked about, how did he square his restrictions on churches with the First Amendment? He said, that’s above my paygrade, I never thought about it. That’s shocking.
Wow. Wow. You know, what you described as the alternative there where you’d have legislators actually having a balanced approach, bringing in other experts debating things, that’s a neat idea. Sounds like a Republican or something. I mean, I wonder if we could have a Republican the States, maybe there’s a constitutional provision that guarantees that we would have a Republican every state?
Well, you know, there is a constitutional provision, it’s called the Guarantee Clause and it guarantees that we will have a Republican form of government, which means a representative checks and balance kind of government that was established in the United States and all the different 50 states, that is guaranteed. And what is happening, these executive orders that continue to go on long beyond their even termination in some cases, they have upset the balance. What we have is an oligarchy or a monarchy, where we’re just being ruled by a single individual.
Yeah. And you know, people keep asking me, how do we stop it? How do we turn it around? And I really think, I mean, obviously, individually, we need to know our rights and study these things. But without guys like you, Mat, we’re not going to get there. And that’s one of the suits that you’re filing are so important. We want to send people today to your website, LC.org.
They can get help there. They can also contribute. I mean, this is an important time to support you guys, you’re doing this all over the country, probably maybe more cases than you’ve ever had to handle at one time before your team is taxed right now. And so, we want to get you some help. So, we encourage people to go make a contribution at LC.org. And if they need help, go to LC.org. Thank you for what you’re doing, brother. God bless you. You’re on the front lines.
Well, thank you. I mean, our team is working till four or five o’clock in the morning, getting a few hours sleep and continuing on even through the weekend. So, it is one of the business, if not the busiest time in our 31 year history. So, thank you. Yeah, you can go to LC.org, LC.org. We also have a page for churches to reopen in the process and it’s reopenchurch.org, reopenchurch.org.
For such a time as this, brother, I think all these years you’ve been fighting these battles, he’s been just making you better and better and prepared for this time that our Constitution needs you and our people need you. So, thanks for standing in the gap.
The Greatest Political Privilege
Thank you. Good to be with you.
That’s Mat Staver Liberty Counsel LC.org is the website. Stay with us.
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realized that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like man the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders library, where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our founding fathers.
We call it the Quickstart Guide to the Constitution, because in just a few hours through these videos, you will learn the citizen’s guide to America’s Constitution, you’ll learn what you need to do to help save our constitutional republic. It’s fun, it’s entertaining and it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at wallbuilders.com.
Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realized that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, its Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a little bit different Foundations of Freedom Thursday today, normally we’re taking your questions and answering those foundational questions. But today, we wanted to have Mat Staver on just to catch us up on some of these great victories that Liberty Counsel has had against the unconstitutional COVID crackdown orders of governors preventing people from living out their religious liberties and there are other constitutional rights as well.
So, we really do appreciate Mat and the great work they’re doing there. It’s LC.org. If you want to learn more, LC.org and you should want to learn more. And you can donate to Liberty Counsel there as well so they can continue to give this free legal advice and counsel and defense to these churches and pastors across the country.
You can also visit our Know Your Rights Campaign, which is at constitutioncoach.com, you’re familiar with that website from this program. That is our effort to get more people to have civics education. You know, the real pandemic is a lack of civics. We have essentially, if you think about it, your body is not going to be weakened for a virus and susceptible to a virus unless your immune system is weakened.
In the same way, society and the culture is not likely to give into bad government and tyrannical government unless it has weakened civics. In our case as a constitutional republic, if you don’t have good civics, if people don’t have a good education about our history and our constitutional jurisdictions, it’s like a petri dish for bad government. It allows that to grow and that’s why we have this virus of tyrannical orders spreading across the country is our lack of civics.
More Wins For Churches Against Covid Orders – With Mat Staver
And so, what we’re doing at constitutioncoach.com is we’re educating people on their rights. Do exactly what John Jay said to do, first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, signer the Constitution, and one of the guys who gave us the Federalist Papers. He said, we should know our Constitution. He said we should study the Constitution so that we’ll know our rights will perceive when they’ve been violated and be the better prepared to defend and assert them. That’s what we’re doing at constitutioncoach.com.
If you go to that website, we’ve got some videos there where you can get a quick education on some of the issues and questions around quarantines and the Constitution. You can also, if you need quick legal help, you need immediate legal help on some of these constitutional issues, we will connect you with Mat Staver and Kelly Shackleford, Brad Dacus, these other attorneys across the country that are on the front lines.
And then we’re also asking you to volunteer to help others know their rights. You don’t have to be an expert. You may not have even been through our Constitution class yet, but we’re asking you to become a Constitution host for free. It’s all for free. You sign up and you get your friends and family to get online with you or if you’re allowed in your State or maybe even if the governor says you’re not allowed, have them come over and join you in the living room to study or at your church. But it’s a great opportunity to study and know your constitutional rights, and then properly defend and assert them. All that information today at constitutioncoach.com.
Thanks for joining us at WallBuilders Live. This has been Foundations of Freedom Thursday.
Abraham Lincoln said, “We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts; not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Thank you Wallbuilders and Rick Green for such a riveting interview with Mat. I learned so much.