WHY IT’S A TRAP TO AGREE TO BE SIMPLY AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE

Imagine with me: It is five years from now.  Your church is still seating people six feet apart. The State is still doing spot inspections of your sanctuary and bathrooms, and they can shut down services any time they wish to.

This is why we cannot let ourselves be classified as an ‘essential service.’ I believe that to do that would be to make a deal with the devil. No, I am not nitpicking. The church made this same horrible mistake 65 years ago when the Johnson Amendment made Christian organizations 501c3 corporations.

Pastor A.J. Nunes, one of our team leaders, brought this threat to my attention.

Walmart and Costco are examples of ‘essential services.’ They operate under the direct regulation of the Health Department and any other agency of State and Local government that wants a shot at them.

We must fight for religious freedom—not to be an ‘essential service’, as if we are a retail business. We want State governments to respect the church more than they respect box stores—a lot more.

How do we differ from stores under the Constitution? That is the question! The First Amendment places churches in a higher category of protection than stores. Religion is singled out as a protected entity.

Our goal is to ban Blue States from violating our rights by using the virus as an excuse for writing laws that gratuitously hinder our free exercise of religion. 

If Blue States can get us to agree with them that we are no better than retail businesses, they’ll do an end-run around the First Amendment.

Lyndon Johnson pulled a dirty trick like that on the church 65 years ago. A host of pastors opposed his reelection to Congress. His opportunity to shut them up came when fellow Congressmen begged for his vote that would allow them to pass a bill. He agreed to vote their way if they added his amendment that made it illegal for pastors to talk about politics.

It’s like when Nancy Pelosi refused to vote for the small business relief bill unless it included money for the arts. During a pandemic, she’s thinking about art!

Today, the National Council of Nonprofits uses the following insidious language to say why Christians want to get rid of this violation of free speech. “Although couched as attempts to promote religious freedom and free speech, the legislative proposals would have the effect of politicizing and thereby erasing the public’s high trust in charities, houses of worship, and foundations to benefit politicians and paid political consultants. In addition to legislative action, politicians encourage charitable organizations to endorse candidates, essentially encouraging them to violate the law.”

First, they say our quest is not really for freedom of speech: “Couched in attempts to promote freedom speech.” They are saying our fight to speak freely is not about freedom of speech? How sick is that? Next, they say we’ll lose money by losing high trust. Finally, they make a veiled threat, saying that we are breaking the law by exercising our constitutional right.

The Johnson Amendment is the poster child of the Democratic Party. It has never applied to anyone except conservative churches. Liberal and black churches have always been free to endorse candidates.

During Obama’s reelection campaign, Michelle Obama stood in the pulpit of a black Baptist church and told them, “It is your duty to Christ to vote for Barack Obama.” But the National Council of Nonprofits did nothing about that.

Trump overruled this vile law by executive order. It’s shocking how many pastors still don’t believe they are free to say anything political that they wish.

We lost that battle 65 years ago because of fear. We need to shake fear now and enforce the truth. We are a Constitutionally Protected Body. That is what we are fighting for!

California, we give you notice that we don’t want to trade our rights for a lower grade of freedom than is already promised to churches by the Constitution. We want you to take your hands off of us, because the law of the land guarantees it. We are not looking to Sacramento for permission to exist.

If any Blue State attempts to use this trick in order to illegally regulate us, either during or after the pandemic, we must be prepared and fully resolved to fight with all of our might—for the sake of lost souls, our nation, our congregations, and our families.

We will obey rational laws regarding health and safety. We will meet when God wants us to meet. We will fill our churches when God wants them filled. And we will sing and preach what God wants to hear. Those who spilled their blood during the American Revolution did so in order that a timeless document might be written—the greatest document of freedom the world has ever seen, outside of the Bible. Our Constitution guarantees us the right to say what Peter said to those who wanted to limit the church during his lifetime, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19b-20).

 

I WARNED YOU

If this doesn’t cause the Church of Jesus Christ to arise, nothing will. Several weeks ago, I issued a warning that has now become painfully real. I predicted that the Democrats on the Left would use the pandemic to permanently control the church.

On May 1, I had written: “Long after the virus is no longer a viable threat, every State under Democrat rule will keep churches closed as long as possible. And even after they allow us to open, there will be permanent irrational limitations placed on us.”

And these were my exact words on March 15: “Few things are more dangerous right now than the state drifting from justifiable health guidelines into police brutality. Only a fool doesn’t know about the growing outright hostility toward Christians in the Blue states. Their mouths are watering at the prospect of shutting down churches. They are looking for any excuse, and we must rebuke all demonic power and ask God to cause the fire of revival to fall on churches everywhere. The disruption of churches in America is from Satan. Pure and simple.”

Kansas City, MO, Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) issued the threat I warned you about:  “As Kansas City begins reopening, the local government is requiring every church who wishes to provide services to turn in, when asked, a detailed list of every person who enters their building for services, including name, phone number, and address, so city officials can use it for surveillance and tracking purposes. Failure to comply could result in up to 6 months in jail and the church being completely shut down.”

Do you honestly believe their surveillance will end after the pandemic? Do you think the data they collect will be deleted as soon as the virus is gone? Red China has nothing on Missouri.

Any pastor, who won’t risk jail rather than comply with this order, is, in my opinion, a traitor to the Constitution, his people, and his Bible. There, I said it.

The situation gets darker. Sacramento, California is the seat of this revolution to undo the rights of churches by using the virus as an excuse. They make Mayor Quinton look like a moderate when it comes to planning and executing a police state.

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) admits the pandemic was the opportunity to pull the pin out of the grenade. When he was asked if he saw the virus as a political opportunity to advance progressive policies he said: “There is opportunity for reimagining a [more] progressive era as it [relates] to capitalism,” Gov. Newsom said. “So yes, absolutely we see this as an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern.”

Thus, California formed the Western States Alliance. Their prima facie purpose is to coordinate the reopening of California, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. We know that this newly formed politburo will exert power long after the reopening. They will work together to force socialism and atheism on America. The U.S. Constitution is in their crosshairs.

This is California’s opportunity to accelerate their plan to weaken the local church and ultimately erase Christian influence from America.

Remember Assembly Bill 2943? Back in 2018, California tried to pass a bill that would have left a loophole open to make the Bible a “fraudulent document that could be banned,” because the Bible is opposed to “sexual orientation change.”

Now they are wounding the church by using nebulous guidelines for reopening. Get this: They keep changing the rules to keep pastors off balance and delay their public gatherings until it weakens all churches, and closes some church doors for good.

Gavin Newsom said that first he will go after capitalism and then he is saying, “wait’ll I get my hands on the church.”

The next step is to sneak in new rules for how the church will operate. Social distancing may continue indefinitely, putting an onerous burden on churches. It will be a political siege designed to force churches to cave, and decide it is not worth it to buck the system.

So what does all this mean? And what action does it demand?

First, we must admit they have declared an evil war on us. We must quit being cowards, and face the truth. They are doing evil. They want to drive the church underground. Doubt that fact, and you are part of the problem. Say it is someone else’s responsibility, and you are helping evil destroy America.

You know they are breaking Federal Law and the Constitution. Every believer must wake up and do their indisputable duty: to oppose this evil. The price of apathy at this point is incalculable. The curse you are putting on your children and grandchildren is a nameless horror.

What specific action should we take? Our action must first be to enter into Spiritual Warfare, but it cannot end there. Our battle plan is drawn from 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ…”

By the power of fervent intercession and unction in preaching, we must destroy the sophisticated argument that says the church should be oppressed by government, long after the pandemic is gone.

Then, when there is no reasonable danger of infection, pastors must reopen their churches, and if necessary, practice civil disobedience to laws that would keep their church shutdown for any reason that is demonstrably a matter of persecution and not a health issue. If enough churches do this, it will go to the Supreme Court, and the states will lose power.

Furthermore, preachers must tear up every talking point that California, and the Western Alliance demands you to preach in your pulpit. We must make it a matter of life and death to remain faithful to the Word of God.

Beyond that, we must operate our churches under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If God wants your church packed out, then forget what the state wants.

Now, listen to me as you have never listened. Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Matthew 16:18.

Do you believe that verse? The ‘gates’ referred to are not just physical gates, but plans and strategies.

Jesus will never allow the plans that hell has to destroy the Church He is building. If we want the power of this promise, we must be the Church He is building—we must build His Church, right through the gates of Sacramento, if necessary.

 

THE WAY THEY HAVE THE CHURCH LOCKED DOWN

The left hates the church. This is fact and not fiction. You can count on them to use the coronavirus in an attempt to damage Christianity. Their ultimate goal is to sell preachers on a future church with a vastly decreased influence on the nation.

They proved both their hatred and their future plans by the way they closed the churches during this pandemic. They should have found a way to keep churches open, and they could have done so, easily: they found a way to keep “necessary businesses” like Planned Parenthood open.

But by not even trying to find a way, they made a very dangerous statement. The First Amendment to the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

It is illegal to prevent worship. If there was any way possible to allow churches to remain open safely, they were duty bound to find it.

If it is in the Constitution that you can’t create a law which prevents American citizens from meeting for worship in churches, why did they do it? California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will tell you that it is necessary to close churches for the safety of the public. That is a bald-faced lie. California found a way to keep Walmart, Costco, and liquor stores open, as well as the Planned Parenthood death mills.

But when it came to churches, they didn’t even try. They didn’t even bother to consult pastors about what could be done. California is the epicenter of technology, and they couldn’t find a solution for safe worship? Why would they do this? Could it be they couldn’t find a way to keep churches open for the same reason a burglar can’t find a policeman?

The preexisting hatred for the church emboldened them to ignore their Constitutional priority to allow freedom of religion. This hatred is so blatant and open that Governor Northam of Virginia hideously overruled freedom of religion by passing a law that forces churches to allow men to use the ladies room.

Ever notice how the Left uses the phrase “freedom of worship” rather than “freedom of religion”? They do that on purpose. They use it to justify their bans on churches. They say, “You can worship God in nature, in your car, or in your house.” But “freedom of religion” means something else, entirely. Freedom of religion refers to houses of worship, doctrines, creeds and traditions.

Freedom of religion means you cannot write a law that overrules a religious conviction, but that is precisely what Northam did. He is saying, in essence, “I don’t care what your Bible says, I order you to violate your faith.” Using that logic, they could force Rabbis to eat ham sandwiches…

So why did they do all these things? This, my friend, was merely a dress rehearsal. They flexed their muscles to prove they could close down every church and keep them closed for as long as they wanted. If you think they won’t do it again—and next time, do it with far less justification—you are naïve.

The purpose of the test was to see how America would react. Look carefully at these verses:

Acts 12:1-3, “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter, also.” Are you seeing a pattern here?

When Herod saw how murdering Christian leaders pleased the anti-Christian crowd, it emboldened him to arrest Peter. Bingo! That is what California and other States are doing. Testing to see how it plays with their base when they persecute the church.

Here is the tragic fact we must face. Millions were okay with the church shutdown because they hate President Trump and they see the church as his ally.

Long after the virus is no longer a viable threat, every State under Democrat rule will keep churches closed as long as possible. And even after they allow us to open, there will be permanent irrational limitations placed on us. Here in Reno, they opened the marijuana dispensaries today, but churches are still forced to remain closed indefinitely. Go figure.

I hate the term ‘wakeup call’ because it is vastly over-used. But, this really is a wakeup call. Just as Paul indicted the Philippian politicos for their gross violation of Roman law in Acts 16, we must take legal action against all the governors who illegally violated the Constitution, and who oppressed the church.

If we fail to come together in unity and act against this tyranny, we will be bitterly failing our children and future generations.

It’s a hard truth, but when it comes to defending freedom of religion, at this point, we can only look to God and ourselves. But if God be for us, who can be against us?

THE LESSON

First of all, Mario Murillo Ministries is still a California Corporation and we are dedicated to seeing revival here.  However, to learn how the church lost her witness here demands brutal honesty.

15.8 million Californians claim to be Christian—more by far, than any other state in the union.  When California went abjectly hippie, communist, one has to wonder where were the Christians?   Let’s stipulate that only one third of all believers in California can vote.  According to statistics, that would still be 5.26 million people.

Gavin Newsom won a popular vote margin of  just under 2.9 million.  Why couldn’t the Church—with her vast store of congregants—come up with another 3 million votes to win the election?  If every Christian who could vote, voted for righteousness, they would have won by a landslide. There’s a bigger question:

Why did Christians vote for Gavin Newsom? He is even most hostile to our values than Jerry Brown was.  We know they did, because he could not win without their vote.  The church had the power—at every turn—to stop the liberal agenda in California.  Why didn’t she? 

I know that judges overturned the will of the people with Prop 8.  I get that there are union crime families in California.  I realize that free speech is dying on the left coast.  I also know there is widespread voter fraud.  All of that considered, it still does not explain how such a vast voting bloc could be neutralized.

This is not a hatchet job on believers in the Golden State.  I have sacrificed a great part of my life for the churches there.  I don’t believe the fault lies with rank and file believers.  I also know there are many godly pastors faithfully serving on the West Coast.

No, this disaster crept in like a Trojan Horse.  I saw it firsthand and preached against it from the first day I saw it.  It was a masterstroke of Satan that began over 30 years ago.  When I tell you the culprit, a part of you will be shocked, and another part will recognize why I am right instantly.

The problem was the church growth movement.  More harm than you can possibly imagine came from the seemingly innocuous words “church growth movement.”  And, yes indeed it was a movement.

The initial victim was unity.  The next victim was soul winning.  The final victim was Bible literacy.  Here is how it worked:

When numbers mattered more than anything, California pastors began to see other pastors as the competition.  Hollywood, drugs, atheism, and sexual perversion were no longer the threat—now it was your brother in Christ.  Ministers became suspicious of one another, and began to isolate themselves citing their “big vision.”

Then, these regional pastors inadvertently created a new morality.  Sin was not the sin defined in scripture—sin was now anything that hindered growth.  By removing the offensive parts of the Bible, they also removed the parts that had the power to change people. 

They steered clear of righteousness by saying “confrontational messages offend the very people we are trying to reach.”  This is code for “it is bad for business.”

To maximize growth, churches felt compelled to become self-contained entertainment centers, who didn’t need anyone else.  This destroyed mass evangelism, like what we saw with Billy Graham in neutral stadiums and auditoriums.  The photo below is from the Billy Graham Crusade in the Los Angeles coliseum in 1963.  120,000 are inside and 30,000 more could not get in.  This is unimaginable in Los Angeles today.

Soon California churches became expert at drawing audiences but leaving them unchanged by the Gospel.  Hundreds of thousands could belong to a church and see nothing wrong with abortion or gay marriage. Why?  Because their spiritual leader never talked about it.  Believers assumed that all of this was acceptable under the constant drumbeat of inclusiveness.

When the pastors noticed that the people loved their “nonreligious” appearance and behavior, they began to let down their guard.  The innocent wine and cocktails turned in a drinking habit.  Other dark trends that I will not mention became common among these leaders.  Thus, they were powerless to address the rampant immorality in their congregations.  They were also powerless to form a multi-church statewide voter movement.

Soon, Movie stars, pop stars, and famous athletes became status symbols for these churches.  Instead of the mega pastor discipling these celebrities, the celebrities discipled them.   It became impossible for these preachers to quote scripture, teach doctrine, or oppose liberal agendas.

Finally, taking a stand against left wing politicians became unloving.  Pastors escaped their duty by saying “that is not my calling.”  They took the Bible out of context in telling them that any political statements were judgmental.  Any Christian voter registration effort was downplayed or banned.

Soon Satan had tightened his noose and masses of Christians were oblivious to the warfare around them—most of all, they were ignorant of the ultimate price their children would have to pay for their doctrinal illiteracy.

The things these pastors preached gave no inkling of what believers were about to face.  Their child could be suspended for wearing a Christian t-shirt.  Their job in Silicon Valley could be lost if they testified on the job.  Textbooks that taught alternative sexual lifestyles were forced on their children.  The streets grew violent and the Universities became intolerant.  In short, these churches prepared their crowds for a world that doesn’t exist and did not stop the one that now exists.

California Christians—there is still hope!  The Christian history of California proves that great movements of God can come out of nowhere.  The Jesus movement appeared when a flood of immorality gripped the state.  God can do it again!  As I wrote recently, there is a secret about California that Satan viciously protects: Many in California are searching for God. We see it right now in Marysville where hundreds have been born again and the harvest demands we extend the meetings!

Nevertheless—it is simple truth:  the church growth movement was destructive.   Instead of building on the Rock—which would have given them a large church anyway—they built on sand.  The storm that Jesus warned us of has come.   They sent sheep out of their services unprotected and unable to withstand the storm of left-wing tyranny that  has set the state adrift in a sea of chaos.

Christians across America, take a lesson from California.  If the most popular churches in your state resemble the ones in this blog beware, the same crisis is already in your state.