The Bible makes it clear that Christians are to be law-abiding citizens. But as Christians, we are supposed to obey the Bible as well.
We also believe that there are realms where the civic authority is appropriately using its power, and areas where the government should not intrude. For Christians, as Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon continue their coronavirus lock-downs, this is becoming more and more problematic.
As we have now apparently entered “Phase One” of the Scottish government’s plan, here are some of the questions that really should be answered, if the government wishes to retain the respect of Christians.
“PHASE ONE” QUESTIONS
I.a) Is it legal to sunbathe or have a picnic in the town park and maintain social distancing?
I.b) Is it then legal to have a picnic on church grounds and maintain SD?
I.c) Is it then legal for multiple families to have picnics on church grounds and maintain SD?
I.d) Would legal picnics become illegal if someone sang a hymn, or read Scripture, or prayed, or preached?
I.e) Does the government think sunbathing is more important than worship?
II.a) If it is safe to drive to a takeaway, why is it unsafe to drive to a church building?
II.b) Is it safer to take food prepared by someone else through your car window, or to take a sermon through it?
II.c) Are not drive-in services where all stay in their car safer than many things now permitted?
II.d) Does the government think fish suppers are more important than worship?
III.a) Is it safer to go inside a garden centre to pay, or to attend an outdoor (or drive-in) church service?
III.b) Flowers are good, but does the government think flowers are more important than worship?
IV.a) Is public transport safer than an outdoor or drive-in church service?
IV.b) Are people allowed to decide whether or not the risks of public transport are more important than the benefits?
IV.c) Why are people not allowed to decide whether the risks of an outdoor worship service are more important than the benefits?
V. What gives the government any moral right to make those value judgments for everyone as to what is more important?
VI. Is there anyone for whom worship is important included among the scientists or politicians advising the government?
VII. a) Does the ECHR guarantee freedom of religion?
VII. b) Is there any evidence that it is “necessary for public health” to prohibit outdoor or drive-in services?
VII. c) How many people around the world have caught Covid-19 at an outdoor or drive-in church service?
VII. d) Does the Scottish government really have sufficient evidence to blow away ECHR Article 9?
VIII. Does it at all bother anyone in government that Russia currently has more religious freedom than Scotland?
“PHASE TWO” QUESTIONS
I. If it will be safe to enter betting shops with social distancing, why no church services with SD?
II. If pubs can reopen with outdoor seating, can churches have outdoor services?
III. If professional sport (some involving close physical contact) can resume, why not church services with distancing?
IV.a) Does the government think gambling, alcohol, and professional sport are more important than worship?
IV. What gives the government any moral right to make those value judgments for everyone?
“PHASE THREE” QUESTIONS
I.a) What if we never get to Phase Three and the virus is never “suppressed”? Will the worship ban be permanent?
I.b) Can the government guarantee a vaccine or an effective cure is coming?
I.c) If there is no guarantee of virus suppression, why are freedoms (religious and otherwise) being taken away until it arrives?
II.a) Does the “test and protect” program mean anyone identified as a “contact” by a new Covid-19 victim must self-isolate?
II.b) How can churches guard against malicious attacks by falsely identifying ministers as “contacts”?
II.c) Does the government really believe no one would falsely name ministers of religion as “contacts”?
II.d) Will church ministers have the right to know who has named them so they can confirm or deny contact?
III.a) If we never get to Phase Four (virus no longer “a significant issue”), how intrusive do you intend to be in church life?
III.b) Is smoking “a significant issue” for health in Scotland? Alcohol and drug abuse? Obesity?
III.c) Why remove religious freedom over Covid-19 when government takes no drastic action over other “significant issues”?
“PHASE FOUR” QUESTIONS
I.a) If we do get to this point, will Phase Four ever end?
I.b) Is the government asserting a permanent right to dictate church practices?
I. c) How is any restriction at all, in Phase Four, consistent with ECHR Article 9?