A Time to Act
Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Note: If you'd rather watch what follows as a VIDEO....click below : ) . . . and if you just want to get to the "action points," scroll down past the portrait of John Calvin to the numbered list.
Two months ago, all eyes were on the White House as information flooded in and we looked for direction in how to deal with a deadly new virus. Faulty models and deceptive reporting from governments, the WHO, and much of the media were combined with dependence on a small group of scientists within the federal health establishment rather than a diverse group of competing medical views. . . . all of which led us to believe that COVID-19 was equivalent to the plague. Clearly, it is not. Real infection and mortality rates are revealing that its probable that 99.9% of people who are infected survive, the vast majority with mild, highly manageable symptoms. There are also now several promising therapeutics that further reduce the threat.
The much greater threat was to liberty. Something felt very wrong …. because it was.
Two months ago, officials within the executive branch (with only a very few notable exceptions) sprang into action and launched emergency powers in order to deal with what they feared was an unprecedented threat. What was truly unprecedented were the measures required of us. When considered in full, they are breathtaking: restrictions on movement, association, freedom of worship, peaceful assembly and petitioning of the government, the haphazard sorting of workers and businesses as “essential” or “non-essential” and subsequent property rights violations, the infringement of personal liberty and privacy rights as “snitch lines” expanded state surveillance powers and Florida’s Department of Health, citing FS 381.00315 announced that “pursuant to Executive Order 20-80 and the Florida Department of Health declaration of a Public Health Emergency, the State Health Officer and Surgeon General can order any individual to be examined, tested, vaccinated, treated, isolated or quarantined for COVID-19.” This is stunning. And, of course, all of these unconstitutional policies advanced because another fundamental right called “due process” was suspended due to the "state of emergency."
What was also breathtaking….and continues to be….was the lack of “check and balance” actions from legislatures, the judiciary and LOCAL governments. As Charles Kesler of the Claremont Institute wrote “The decrees of mayors, governors, and public health officers are being treated as laws, though no legislatures have enacted them nor courts reviewed them.” John Calvin would call this “nefarious perfidy.” Yes – THAT John Calvin : )
Hang with me… I think we all kind of know somewhere back in our minds that our representatives are there to serve and protect us….but we’ve forgotten that the BIG reason they’re there is to serve as a check against abuse by another branch or higher “level” of civil government….to “rein them in”….to bring them back to the standard of the law. THIS was what Magna Carta was about…..THIS was what reformation-era philosophers wrote about as they resisted tyrannical leaders who sought both their lives and their consciences. . .THIS was what the English Petition of Right in 1628 and ensuing English Civil War was about . . and English colonists (in America by that time) watched and learned as Parliament resisted and prevailed against their tyrant king….THIS was what the American War for Independence was about and THIS is why your constitutional republic was designed as it was.
Many of you may not know that the reformer John Calvin included sections on the biblical principles of civil government in his famous Institutes. Now y’all bear with me here….I want you to be convinced in your minds about this, so I need to “teach” for just a minute.
Calvin wrote in Volume IV, Chapter 20: “It very rarely happens that kings regulate themselves so that their will is never at variance with justice and rectitude; . . . the vice or imperfection of men therefore renders it safer and more tolerable for the government to be in the hands of the many so that. . . if any one arrogate to himself more than is right, the many may act as censors and master to restrain his ambition." Calvin is basically saying that “power corrupts” so it’s better if power is distributed to “the many” who can restrain a leader who’s “off the rails.” He goes on to say that this “has always been proved by experience, and the Lord confirmed it by His authority when He established a government of this kind among the people of Israel….” Did you catch that? God himself, recognizing the tendency for centralization of power and corruption, established a decentralized system of representative government in the twelve tribes of the Exodus and in fact, warned them extensively about establishing a monarchy.
But there’s more. . . Calvin went on to describe the duties of those “many” that held the power of government… "For if there are now any magistrates of the people, appointed to restrain the willfulness of kings…in accordance with their duty, if they wink at kings who violently fall upon and assault the lowly common folk, I declare that their dissimulation (deceit) involves nefarious perfidy (wicked & deliberate breach of trust), because they dishonestly betray the freedom of the people, of which they know that they have been appointed protectors by God’s ordinance.”
I know…nobody says it like Calvin, but it boils down to this: When higher civil authority makes an unjust/immoral law or decree, the lower ranking civil authority has both the right and duty to protect the people by refusing to enforce it and may, if necessary, actively resist the superior authority. And if they don't, they've deceitfully betrayed the people they've pledged to protect and serve....."nefarious perfidy!" Many other philosophers came behind Calvin, expanding on his thoughts. Notably Samuel Rutherford, a pastor and diplomat in the mid-1600s wrote Lex Rex, explaining FROM SCRIPTURE, why it was vital to resist tyranny in the civil sphere BUT how to do that biblically (meaning yes, even in light of Romans 13). One of the key elements here is that the officials are not the authority that must be always obeyed….the law is the authority and ALL are subject to it. ….Lex Rex = the Law is King. In a constitutional republic such as ours it is the people who must hold those they have chosen to govern accountable to the law. But another key point by Rutherford….resistance through proper channels: our local representatives. We should all know Rutherford – our founders certainly did.
So, while I have sent my share of emails and tweets to Governor DeSantis, I’ve spent more time contacting my local officials…..my “lower magistrates.” The good news: they responded personally and kindly. The bad news: the responses were all “we can’t do anything because of the governor’s executive order.” I persisted and so should you. We must urge them to represent our objections “up the chain” and stand up against unjustified infringements. We are in a scary place when our local officials see themselves as “branch offices” of the state government.
Why are we in that place? Because so few anymore understand the fundamentals of how our constitutional republic was designed and the foundations upon which it was built and (because of that) few really have the courage of their convictions.
We can be thankful that, after two months of this nonsense, there are finally a few sheriffs, mayors and legislators across the country who are saying that they will not enforce unjust and unlawful edicts and courts are beginning to overturn them. In our area, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn has said that their police department will not enforce limitations on businesses or other “guidelines” that are mandated by the governor and state representative Anthony Sabatini of Lake County has emerged as a leader in articulating why the ways in which this emergency power is being used are unconstitutional and has filed several lawsuits to fight them.
So, I started this essay by saying that I’m hopeful. That’s because I believe that for many, this is a wake-up call. In fact, I’m seeing many more people voicing their concerns about federalism and local self-government and constitutional rights…..even if they’re not using that language! Sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s taken away….and we’re still in the midst of a pretty alarming preview. But I think many are seeing that we’ve allowed God’s gifts of life, liberty and property-uniquely planted and protected for centuries in America- to slip to the edge of a precipice.
So, if you’re one of those folks….and you’re wondering what to do next, my answer is that of St. Benedict: “Ora et labora” – pray and work.
There are many “fronts” where life, liberty and property are under attack. You can’t fight on them all. Believe me, I’m preaching to myself right here, but we must first really seek God about where to invest our time and how to best serve Him, then be willing to go where He calls. As Martin Luther famously said: “Work, work, from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
With that said, here are some of the things that have been stirring in me…some thoughts about “front lines” where immediate action is needed to “pull us back from the edge.”
1. Intentionally love your neighbor and give grace – people have been scared to death by the media coverage of coronavirus and the messaging. Be kind to others . . . whatever their mask preference. It's an incredible blessing to be free from fear but be winsome not "preachy" as you embrace the ability to go to dinner, worship with others, or return to an office. Intentionally help others remember that “normal” is wonderful, not scary. Perhaps invite them to sit in your driveway at a distance and hang out in the evening or go for a bike ride together to a local spot where you can sit outside and have an iced tea. You'll know what to do : )
2. Reject the language. There is absolutely no justification for a “new normal” (code for increased civil government interference, surveillance, regulations and rules). Stop saying it. Same thing for “social distancing” and “stay safe.” It’s not that you don’t want people to be safe, but continually focusing their attention on "staying safe" implies imminent danger. How about just “so good to see you…have a great night!” Words matter (but that’s another whole essay).
3. Learn about liberty – most of us weren’t taught the foundations of our freedom and neither were our children. I am passionately committed to preparing the next generation (and their parents) to understand why life, liberty and property are not just good ideas, they’re “God-ideas” worth defending. Guys – this is not “wrapping the Bible in the flag.” God really does communicate truths about every area of life in His Word….remember that there are four legitimate God-ordained spheres of government with limited roles and biblical standards for each….the family, the individual, the church and the civil spheres. In God's providence, we have been blessed with a civil government designed to protect those spheres: we don't have a king, we have a constitutional republic. Part of our role in this government “of the people” is to hold elected officials accountable to the ultimate ruler: "the law"….not to mindlessly obey. I’m working on some additional “short topical videos” on specific timely issues, but, look - if you need government or history classes for your homeschooling high schooler or want to learn about liberty while standing in the places where it was born, you can learn more about what I do at ProvidentialHistory.net
The rest of these are political action points to communicate to your “lower magistrates.” Don't feel like you have to do them all....but do something : ) I’m contacting Governor DeSantis, Lt. Governor Nunez, my state representative and senator, my county commissioners and my CDD board with the same messages. You can also promote awareness and action on these "fronts" via social media.
4. Ask for Full Opening Now – no more “phased-in freedom.” – The executive branch seized property rights of Floridians on an emergency basis. The justification given (flatten the curve) has been met and, as such, all executive order limitations on businesses, schools, and local municipalities should be lifted and decisions about how and when to open should be shifted to those entities. The power needs to be back in the hands of “the many” where targeted decision can be made and officials are more directly accountable to their constituents. Self-government is the cornerstone of our society; we demand the right to exercise it once again. This editorial co-written by Florida state representative Anthony Sabatini may help.
5. Join the “ReopenFL” facebook group to add to their clout (plus, interesting posts).
6. Say No to “Track and Trace” Expansions- there’s great danger to personal liberty and privacy with the massive new funding and new programs for “tracking and tracing” of COVID-19 infection. Do any of us doubt that if this power is gained it WILL be abused. Yes, I know that there have been limited “track and trace” protocols within the Department of Health for years . . .and if that level was sufficient for H1N1 and flu, it should be sufficient for the non-plague that is coronavirus. But what is now proposed is an immense expansion. We’ve been told that they’re “scaling up an army of contact tracers” to “be sure that YOU get contacted in case you come in contact with someone who has tested positive for CV19.” The only way that happens is for government to be aware of your location at all times such that interactions with known cases could be tracked. This is an incredible invasion of privacy and violation of the 4th amendment. Let your federal legislative delegation know that you oppose HR6666 and local reps know that you oppose expansion of “track and trace” measures at the state level. Here's a great analysis of HR6666 by Michael Farris and one from Florida Freedom Keepers with action points.
7. Say No to a Mandatory Coronavirus Vaccine- I know the word “mandatory” hasn’t been floated yet by any official source, but the discussion is certainly present in mainstream medical discussions. Incredible amounts of money are being deployed, the national guard mobilized, and the White House talking about a goal of 300 million doses (that’s just about the population of the USA). If it’s produced and paid for and the military is deployed to distribute it, it seems there may be some pretty significant “incentives” to take it. Again, the impact of coronavirus does NOT justify this massive infringement on personal liberty. We should be pre-emptively communicating that mandatory vaccination for COVID-19 will not be tolerated nor would the privacy-busting “immunization certificates” that might force people to receive a questionable and unneeded vaccine in order to exercise basic rights. I’d start messaging this now.
8. Defend The Integrity of Your Vote – COVID-19 is being used to justify major changes in election procedures…like CRAZY changes that almost guarantee massive fraudulent voting and the dilution of legal votes. Folks, we’re in a huge struggle for control of the political direction of Florida as well as the country and elections are a major front. “Mail-in ballots” may seem benign until you dig in a bit. What’s being proposed (in the $3 trillion HR 6800 “Heroes Act” and other state actions) are ballots mailed to every “registered voter” not just “active voters” and mailed whether requested or not . . .with no ID enforcement allowed. Voter rolls are always grossly out of date and thousands of ballots will be mailed to people who have died, moved etc. In addition, the bill encourages “in-person” voting AS WELL. It also weakens current rules that invalidate ballots because of mismatched signatures and prohibit “vote harvesting. This is literally an invitation to absolute election chaos and it must be stopped. There are already accommodations in place in every state for registered voters desiring an “absentee ballot” should they prefer to vote that way. Mandating “all mail voting” violates citizens’ rights to vote in federal elections in the manner chosen by their state legislature and opens wide the door for fraud. Read more about HR 6800 proposals HERE and consider joining/supporting/volunteering with True the Vote. Check them out!
I said earlier that words matter. "Stay safe." "New Normal." . . . Well, Charles Kesler of Claremont Institute who I quoted earlier, also recently wrote this: “One word that has been in no danger of turning into a cliché is “liberty.” So far in this crisis American liberty may be the only thing about which there has not been an abundance of caution.
But I have hope - let’s focus on liberty together!