According to both the law of God and the law of man, interfering with Christian worship is a no-go zone for government.
Mask Mandates and the Law
Mask mandates are authoritarian overreach. Currently they have Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) (1), which means they may be used on an emergency basis. They are by their very nature an experimental use of a medical product and carefully governed by Federal law, (2) which stipulates that use is strictly voluntary. (3) This is sometimes called “informed consent,” an idea further enshrined in medical ethics law, such as in the Nuremberg Code. (4) In other words, mask EUA’s are the very opposite of a mandate, and there is a gross difference between allowing their use and compelling their use.
There are constitutional issues as well. The First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution reads as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. (5)
The First Amendment
U. S. Constitution
My own state’s constitution uses the same language.” (6) But what exactly is the “free exercise of religion?” The original declaration in Article II of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights reads this way:
It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship. (7)
Massachusetts Declaration of Rights
In other words, our state and local authorities are prohibited from telling Christians they must worship with a mask on. Some may volunteer to do so, but for others, wearing a mask during worship is not in accord with the “dictates of their own conscience.” Article 20.2 of the Westminister Confession of Faith is helpful here:
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship. So that, to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands, out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also. (8)
Westminster Confession of Faith
It is hard to get much clearer. According to both the law of God and the law of man, interfering with Christian worship is a no-go zone for government.
There is one other important consideration regarding the government’s authority over public health. What is being done now is to treat the entire population as if they are diseased and posing a public health threat. Here is how Article XXIV of the Warrenton Declaration puts it:
WE DENY that the existence of communicable viruses, viral testing mechanisms, or the invention of vaccinations creates a new standard of morality whereby a healthy person simply conducting their affairs in society without vaccination, viral testing, or wearing a mask is evidence of criminally or morally reckless behavior. Moreover, if such a standard for violation of medical freedom is adopted, conceivably, civil governments could permanently regulate and restrict every facet of life since according to this same rationale, various flu-like viruses can be unknowingly spread at all times. Further, there are a host of other far more deadly dangers such as heart disease, which, like virus-related hospitalizations, also place a burden on the health system. The civil government does not then gain authority to ban soda intake for obese individuals. (9)
The Warrenton Declaration
As the Warrenton Declaration points out, this “criminally reckless” behavior paves the way for other medical tyrannies by the state. (10, 11) But back to disease mitigation, which goes back to the Old Testament Levitical laws. The practice was to distance those who were verifiably diseased while the rest of the population went on with life normally (Lev 15:1-12, Num 5:1-4). In the case of leprosy, verification was required by the priest before someone was quarantined (Lev 13:1-46). If verified, the diseased would be visibly identified as such (Lev 13:45). A coronavirus equivalent to these Levitical laws might be to quarantine upon a positive COVID test or to wear a mask in public while symptomatic. But notice how different this is from assuming everyone is sick and making them wear a mask and socially distance. Such demands are unjust.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, had this to say about how we can ascertain whether a law is just or unjust:
A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. (12)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail
If he is right, then it is hard to escape the obvious fact that government-coerced masking is a manifest example of the “degradation of human personality.” Where does this leave us, then? Douglas Wilson suggests that civil disobedience is the appropriate response:
Such illegal orders may be disregarded, and they should be disregarded. Where people comply, it should be out of necessity, and not because there is any Romans 13 basis for it. When you give a mugger your wallet, you are responding to coercion. You are not granting any moral authority to him. It is the same here. These orders are transparently hypocritical, unconstitutional, illegal, and immoral. (13)
7 Reasons for Unmasking the Masks
Nevermind that we are told by the CDC and our governors that these mask mandates are lawful. Tyrants will never admit that they are being tyrannical. They are violating the law and challenging the authority of Christ. And rather than participate in such rebellion or be indifferent to it, the people of God should reject these mandates on account that Caesar is not Lord.
1 To: Manufacturers of face masks; – food and drug … https://www.fda.gov/media/137121/download
2 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. http://extwprlegs1.fao.org/docs/pdf/usa145420.pdf
3 “21 U.S. Code § 360bbb–3 – Authorization for Medical Products for Use in Emergencies.” LII / Legal Information Institute. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/360bbb-3
4 Nuremberg Code. (2017, May 1). UNC Research. https://research.unc.edu/human-research-ethics/resources/ccm3_019064/
5 U.S. Constitution – First Amendment. Library of Congress. https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/amendment-1/
6 Massachusetts constitution. (n.d.). The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. https://malegislature.gov/laws/constitution
8 The Westminster confession of faith, Chapter 20. (2008, May 28). https://freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2022418/posts
9 (2021, June 17). The Warrenton Declaration. https://warrentondeclaration.com/
10 US call to action final – climatehealthaction.org. https://climatehealthaction.org/media/cta_docs/US_Call_to_Action.pdf
11 Holden, E. (2019, September 16). Climate change is having widespread health impacts. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-is-having-widespread-health-impacts/
12 Letter from Birmingham jail. (n.d.). Bill of Rights Institute. https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/letter-from-birmingham-jail
13 7 reasons for unmasking the masks. (2020, July 8). Blog & Mablog. https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/7-reasons-for-unmasking-the-masks.html