An Illegal, Evil Proclamation of Fear

Today, the governor of Washington State issued a proclamation instituting the most severe restrictions on civil and religious liberties yet seen.

Apparently this is Governor Inslee’s solution to the COVID-19 pandemic:

“Religious services will be limited to 25% indoor capacity or 200 people, whichever is less, and choirs, bands or ensembles are prohibited from performing.”

Lumped in with draconian shutdowns of entire industries (indoor dining, gyms, etc.) and an unprecedented restriction on private social gatherings, this latest emboldened tyranny is perhaps what we should have expected as a side-effect of the recent election.

In case you didn’t get it from the title, I consider this proclamation to be illegal and evil (however it was intentioned) in several ways:

  • The Constitution of the United States protects Americans’ right to freely exercise our religion (1st Amendment). States are not permitted to make laws which abridge the rights and privileges of U.S. citizens. (Fourteenth Amendment) Taken together, the Governor’s attempt to restrict or prohibit the free exercise of religion (specifically gathering together as a complete body and singing praise to God) is an egregious overstep of his authority and must be resisted by all patriots.
  • The Bible clearly calls upon Christians to assemble together (Hebrews 10:25). Restrictions of gatherings to 25% of the congregation seem to fly in the face of that commandment, and as such, must be courageously resisted as Peter and John resisted the religious leaders’ command to stop teaching about Jesus. (Acts 5:28-29). We must, as Peter says, obey God rather than man.
  • Singing praise to God is a central part of the practice of the Christian faith, and is commanded many times in Scripture. Paul specifically mentions this in his letter to the Ephesian church, chapter 5, verse 19:

    … addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

Other references commanding the godly to sing, both individually and corporately include Psalm 89:1, Psalm 132:9, Psalm 104:33, Isaiah 42:10, Acts 16:25, Colossians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 14:15.

Some people point to Romans 13, and argue that Christians should submit to the ruling authorities (and to these COVID-19 restrictions). Again, at the risk of beating a dead horse, I have two answers to that:

  1. The law of the Constitution supersedes, by definition, the law of a Governor of a State (or even an executive order from the President). In Paul’s day, it was appropriate and legal to appeal to the Emperor (as he in fact did). (Acts 25:11)
  2. When the law of man conflicts with the Word of God, there is one clear winner: we choose to obey God.

Christians may suffer for this. Peter and John were beaten by the Sanhedrin, and we should expect to be reviled in public opinion, reported by our own congregants, fined, jailed, and deprived of property at the very least. Brothers and sisters in Christ are being kidnapped, beaten, enslaved and even beheaded for allegiance to Christ — why should we get better treatment? God promises to be with us through the suffering, but He does not promise to save us from earthly discomfort or even death. As Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego famously said in Daniel 3:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

We are living in unprecedented times, which are likely to purify and refine the Church in the United States. We need to be careful not to become distracted by the erosion or even the eradication of our civil liberties — after all, God is still on His throne even if the Constitution is amended to suspend religious liberty altogether. At the same time, it is irresponsible and ungrateful to give away these hard-won liberties without a fight. For hundreds of years, the United States has been a bastion of religious freedom in which the Church has flourished and spread, and we should use every legal defense to hold back the darkness as long as possible.

Christians should continue the work of discipling each other and sharing the gospel to the lost. We must do so without fear of man, including the Governor of Washington and those who agree with him. If we are deemed worthy to suffer for it, then we should be thankful, as were Peter and John. Of course, we may end up singing in jail, as did Paul and Silas.

If you are a Christian, but are inclined to side with the authors of these lockdown laws, be warned. It is time for you to take a stand. There are only two sides — choose wisely. As Emmett said, in the movie “Silverado”: “It’s going to get mean.” The enemies of God are emboldened and ruthless in their opposition to Him — don’t pitch your tent near them.


Here are the relevant portions of the U.S. Constitution, specifically the first and fourteenth amendments:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

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24 thoughts on “An Illegal, Evil Proclamation of Fear”

  1. Great blog, Tim. Thanks so much for writing and for stating it so well. May God give us all courage and may the Church awaken to its responsibility and to prayer.

  2. This blog post was shared with me, and after reading it, I had a few comments I felt compelled to share.
    Firstly, I hear and understand your first and main point – when read literally, yes, this order by Governor Inslee could be seen as a technical violation of the wording of the first amendment. HOWEVER, when taken in context of the greatest pandemic of the last century, as well as the similar restrictions placed on other gatherings and the clearly time-limited nature of the order, this proclamation is read not as a restriction of religious freedom—it is meant as a desperate measure to protect human life, something God also clearly values.
    Yes, the proclamation does limit the physical gathering of church members, as well as some of their usual activities (singing, etc). However, it explicitly does not completely restrict the church from gathering – a group of 200 is immensely larger than those allowed for other activities (such as business) as well as recreation (most facilities closed) – and clearly does not restrict the virtual gathering of church members, as churches around the nation and world have been doing for months. It does not restrict individuals from singing and worshipping God in a distanced manner, in their own homes or in small gatherings with close family. The issue is not the restriction of religious freedom – the issue is how to keep this incredibly devastating virus from continuing to sicken, weaken, and kill countless other individuals.
    Yes, this is different than what we are used to, and does restrict some of the ways we are used to gathering and worshipping – but what in our usual ways of conducting life in this world has not been affected by COVID-19?
    If this proclamation was just targeted at limiting religious freedom and persecuting Christians, or the restriction of religious services was extended beyond the duration of the COVID crisis while all other facets of society were allowed to resume normal operations without clear, scientifically sound rationale for viral containment, then yes, I would agree that we as Christians should protest. While I cannot speak for Governor Inslee and the other leaders who issued these guidelines, when taken in context, this guidance does not appear to be targeting religious services for the sake of persecuting and restricting religious individuals.
    As a physician who cares for patients and families infected with and affected by COVID-19 almost every day, and as a Christian who believes that God is sovereign and desires what is best for all His children, I am deeply saddened by the way that the concepts of social distancing and wearing masks have become such polarizing, politicized concepts. In my opinion, your blog post is an example of this – picking a single aspect of this proclamation and providing a singular, highly religiously and politically charged point of view. And to what end? To what end do Christians and non-Christians, Republicans and Democrats alike continue to do this? To continue to rile up their own religious or political community with emotionally-charged statements that are internally reinforcing, yet ultimately continue to dig deeper the trench that separates “us” from “them” and makes it that much harder to stand down, to see another point of view, and even to love our neighbor (why may have different beliefs) as we love ourselves?
    I am not and do not pretend to be an expert in COVID, public health policy, pandemic containment strategies, or theology. I simply offer a few comments and a slightly different point of view. We cannot see into the future or know how the church, the nation, and the world will continue to be shaped by COVID. Everyone (individuals, physicians, scientists, politicians, leaders, etc) is learning more each day, and, I believe, trying to do their best to make sense of this new reality.
    Perhaps Christians are not called to protest these guidelines based upon the literal interpretation of the Constitution (written also by humans), but to obey those in authority over us and to continue to seek God’s wisdom for such a time as this. Perhaps we as Christians can start to reach across the political divide, instead of contributing to it, as we seek to become more like Christ and share His love with our neighbors – perhaps, at this moment, in a more virtual manner than we are typically accustomed to.

    Mark 12:31
    Romans 13, Matthew 22
    Esther 4:14

    1. Jackie —

      I appreciate your heart and your desire to love God and to love the world.

      I strongly disagree with your conclusions, however. We cannot pretend that the steady encroachment of the State into the church’s sphere of authority is anything but diabolical in its origins and purpose, however nobly it is cloaked in ‘public health’ interests. This isn’t political, rather it is a spiritual challenge. From the beginning, Inslee dismissed church services as being on the same level as a soccer game or concert, and his disregard for first amendment Constitutional freedom is appalling in someone at his level of education and responsibility. Now his prohibition of corporate singing strikes directly at the core of our worship of God, and it comes down to simple obedience: will we obey God, or man?

      If someone had told me a year ago that we would peacefully submit to a 3/4 reduction of our congregation out of fear of a disease that (as far as I know) still has not killed anyone in our congregation of 1000+ people, I would have assumed they were joking. Yet here we are, meekly accepting an unlawful restriction to 25% of our seating capacity for more than 8 months without any apparent push-back, even though (and this is the really sad part) there has been no actual enforcement of these illegal orders. Nationwide, COVID-19 still has killed less than one in a thousand people. Are you seriously arguing that we should effectively shut down churches (and the rest of our society) out of fear that one person in a thousand might die?

      People talk about this as though it is “only for the period of crisis”, apparently not understanding that crises can be manufactured to last indefinitely. Indeed, that has been one of the hallmarks of Inslee’s proclamations — he has typically refused to limit his shutdowns to any particular time frame or tie them to any expiration date.

      Many Biblical saints have counted the cost and have willingly accepted persecution, praising God that they were deemed worthy to suffer in Jesus’ name. We should prepare to do the same.


      1. I suppose one my questions is, how do we know that God’s desire is for us to reject the guidance of elected officials in this situation? Yes, I hear you and understand that God has commanded us to sing and praise him and that we are to obey God above man. I think some of the differences between this situation and that of Daniel are that Governor Inslee is not asking that we worship someone or something besides God, just that religious communities continue to modify behavior for the sake of public health. And this specific modification (no singing) does not sound unnecessarily unreasonable – while we are all still learning (and have much to learn) about COVID and how it spreads, there is some evidence that singing may be a more “risky” behavior in term of virus spread. This is supported by outbreaks of COVID following choir practices and suggested by these studies (, . Alberta Health Services published a relatively comprehensive document based upon available literature this spring and similarly suggested limiting singing in religious services ( I do not claim to know what is right, just based upon what I have seen and know about this topic and COVID itself, it seems reasonable to be to try to be “safe” rather than “sorry.”

        While I am thankful to hear that LC3 has not personally experienced loss of life due to this pandemic, I am not sure that using this “N of 1” situation is appropriate to use as an argument against the logic of public health policy. Per Johns Hopkins, the US saw over 2000 deaths due to COVID just yesterday. ( Sure, when divided by the entire population of this country, the rate may not sound astounding. I do think you also have to take into account the fact that many deaths may not be recognized as due to COVID, so the number may be inaccurate.

        At any rate, I suppose I’m also curious what your threshold of human life would be to “allow” such guidelines to be considered appropriate? Of course, we cannot prevent all death, as that is likely the ultimate reality for each of us, but I think it is interesting that part of your argument to disregard the social distancing guidelines is based on the rate of death due to COVID. At times, Jesus suggested looking after the interests of the one (Luke 15; while I have certainly been taught that these parables are in relation to salvation (and not prevention of COVID infection), I thought it was interesting to think about.

        Yes, it has been many months of COVID-related restrictions – we are all weary of them and would love for this pandemic to end, as it has become more consuming and lengthy than any of us might have imagined. I acknowledge the desire to ensure separation of church and state; again, while I cannot speak for Governor Inslee, I have a hard time believing that this guideline means to undermine church authority for the sake of undermining church authority. I recognize that LC3 has made their decisions, and I do not expect to change anyone’s mind; I reply because I think it is an interesting discourse to engage in, and I hope that as a nation we can help keep each other safe.

        1. Jackie –

          Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate your willingness to engage me in this; it is helping me to clarify my thinking.

          I disagree with regard to your assessment of the effect of Governor Inslee’s edict. I think that is exactly the problem — he IS requiring us to bow down to an idol, albeit metaphorical. One of the things I have observed over these months is that personal health, or the illusion of control of personal health, has become a major idol among Americans. I used to think that our only idols were comfort and money and fame, but I have come to realize that the ability to control our lives and especially our health is perhaps the subtlest idol of all. This explains (at least partially) why the argument has become so vehement — it is fundamentally a religious argument. The combined resources of the government, much of the medical community and the media have been mobilized to support this idolatry, and it is perhaps no surprise that many Christians have consciously or unconsciously adopted this and grafted it into their faith.

          The Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about maintaining personal health or giving it a lot of thought or resources, apart from Old Testament quarantine laws. We are told that we can’t add one hour to our lives through worry, and that we are to bring our sickness to the elders of our church, but we’re not told to make a big deal of health or to fear death. Indeed, we’re told to visit the sick and to care for them, apparently disregarding our own personal safety (or perhaps, in faith, letting God take care of us).

          I agree wholeheartedly that the ‘deaths from COVID’ numbers are inaccurate, but I suspect we mean different things when we say that. I think there is a big difference between ‘death WITH COVID’ and ‘death FROM COVID’, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if an independent, unbiased and unpolitical audit (if such a thing could be found) revealed that many of the deaths recorded as COVID deaths were primarily from other, even unrelated causes.

    2. Jackie, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your response. I respect you as a dear Christian sister and physician who is experiencing this devastating pandemic hands on every day. IMHO, you are the example of walking the walk by placing others before your own inconveniences and desires. May the Lord continue to use you and your work to bridge the divide among so many. THANK YOU????

      1. Sonya —

        I reject the implicit accusation that my stance is ‘placing my own inconveniences and desires ahead of others’. I firmly believe and assert that I am loving my brother by trying to speak against the overwhelming and demoralizing fear-noise that is promoted by government and media alike. It is not loving to my brothers or sisters to consign them to isolation indefinitely and to cut them off from worshipping God as He commands.

      2. I agree completely with Jackie and Sonya on this issue as too many people are foregoing sound medical advice for self interested and politically motivated goals. That viewpoint does not exibit Christ-like attributes.

    3. Yes, Jackie. Thank you!!! Expressing exactly what I see as the problem with so many “conservative” Christians. For many people, this stance pushes them even further away from coming to the Lord.

      We are our brother’s keeper, and Paul talked about not causing others to stumble because of our actions. That’s what I see happening because of this kind of perspective.

  3. Love, love, love this. Thank you, Tim for stating it so beautifully and thoroughly. Our household is in agreement with you!

  4. Praying for you against attacks in both the physical and spiritual world. This war is coming out in the open and while I pray for unity, I acknowledge Matthew 10:34, Luke 12:51. I believe we are hitting a wall…that we cannot bend much farther. God bless you and keep you!

  5. Amen Tim! This right here should be the end of any argument- “When the law of man conflicts with the Word of God, there is one clear winner”

  6. Thank you for putting it so well Mr. Edgren. We are with you 100%. What do you recommend in doing in terms of the church situation? There are so few people even within the church that hold this position that it is difficult to communicate where I am at, but then if we just don’t go to church, what can we do to help change the situation-or is it a lost cause and we just have to revert to the underground church again? -Kara

    1. Kara — this is a really hard time for the Church. At my church, there is a big divide and ignoring it doesn’t seem a tenable strategy. I’m sure Satan is delighted.

      I would encourage you to continue to attend your local church if they are open, and if their mask policy is something you can live with. But don’t leave it there — engage others in conversation and pray for them. Be as gracious as you can, but be courageous. Logically, these restrictions will inevitably tend toward complete suppression of existing churches, but they may also lead to the creation of new, vibrant churches as well. Some in my acquaintance are traveling further to find churches that are open or are of like mind in this, and ultimately that may be our only reasonable course of action.

  7. Well said Tim. In our church, we “try” to social distance, and we take extra precautions, but we sing loud and long????. If you want to wear a mask, knock your self out, or don’t come until you feel safe, WHENEVER that may be. I’m making no judgments on any of the other writers on this, for I honestly didn’t read them all the way thru. Common sense tells us to use caution, not a government bureaucrat. Has anybody looked into how many people around the globe have died from many other things since the Ronna started, and US production has fallen off because of its shutdown? Like the exporting of food? Government is supposed to serve us, not us serve them…..

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