As pastors in some areas face discipline for hosting even small gatherings, there is growing concern politicians and law enforcement officers could use the coronavirus as a way to thwart constitutional rights and religious liberties.
Rick Green, a Texas-based lawyer and former state legislator, is helping people better understand their rights as coronavirus-induced restrictions continue around the country. During an interview with Faithwire, Green, founder of the Constitution Coach, said it’s important for Americans to understand the Constitution, because it’s critical to “know our rights,” particularly now, when so many governors and lawmakers are making unilateral decisions in their respective states.
If the restrictions continue longterm, Green said, it could pose “a danger to the church.” He’s not alone in his concern; theologian and scholar N.T. Wright has argued it’s critical for the church to have a physical presence in society.
“We’re not saying the government should do nothing,” Green clarified. “We’re not saying just ignore this. Government is a God-created institution. It’s got a proper role, and when it’s within its proper boundaries, it’s a blessing to us, the people.”
“But when it gets outside of those boundaries,” he added, “it becomes a curse, it becomes a real problem. And now, when you’re asking people to go months and months without gathering together … this is a bad situation.”
For those who might feel compelled to thwart restrictions for valid reasons, the Texas attorney said “this is a time to model MLK,” whom he said “changed the world” in the 1960s with “peaceful protests.”
Green referenced Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther to make his point, noting she was subjected to fines and a brief period of jail time for re-opening her business before she was allowed to do so. Luther, who practiced proper social distancing and hygiene guidelines in her salon, told the judge she chose to open the doors of her shop because she and her stylists needed the money to put food on the table.
Even still, Green discouraged against protesting in vain.
“It’s not a time for violence,” he explained, noting those demonstrating should do so “for the right reasons” and “not just trying to be angry at people” or “looking for a reason to be against the government.”
Constitution Coach — a partnership between the conservative legal groups Alliance Defending Freedom, First Liberty, Pacific Justice Institute, and Liberty Counsel — provides visitors with content explaining constitutional rights, gives people access to informational courses, and offers a free “hotline” for those concerned their liberties may have been violated.