In a recently televised speech, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio stated plainly that if churches continue to meet, despite the city’s lockdown, they will be fined and could be permanently shut down. The government, permanently shutting down Christian churches, in the city which, don’t forget, has a mosque at Ground Zero.
Now, I’ve refrained thus far from publishing my opinion on the coronavirus itself. I didn’t want to publish flippant comments only for things to then turn bad. Things have turned bad, just not the coronavirus in America, yet. Consider these numbers, as of March 27. So far, there have been 123,750 known cases of coronavirus in the US. This number is likely, in truth, much higher, since most who get it have no to mild symptoms. Only 2.25% of known cases have resulted in medical visits or hospitalization. In contrast, there have been 54,000,000 cases of seasonal flu in the US, with 49% of those known cases resulting in medical visits or hospitalization. The death rate for the coronavirus is 1.8%, 2,227 out of 123,750 cases. The chances of an American testing positive for the coronavirus, again, as of the weekend, is only 1 in 2,674.
Looking at these numbers, I’m inclined to agree that the coronavirus is a flu variety with a spectacular marketing team. Think about it. Cases in the US need to multiply by 436 to equal the current number of seasonal flu cases. Deaths need to multiply by 28 to equal current seasonal flu deaths. If the flu got the coverage corona gets, we’d be seeing headlines like, “255,555 New Cases a Day”, “227 Americans Dying Daily, Does Trump Care?”
Is the ‘Rona a serious flu? Yes, but a flu it remains (apparently curable by the right combo of pills, not to be taken in the form of pool cleaner). I was in college when the Swine Flu came for us all. You know what happened? The sick were quarantined, the elderly were cautious, and the rest of us got on with it. Life went on. Instead, at the present, we’ve chosen to ruin the economy and throw ourselves further down the black hole of generational debt. And, although some Democrats, like Pennsylvania’s governor, have, as of yet, considered churches essential gatherings, and for that I am truly grateful, others, like De Blasio, have taken this flu season as an opportunity to just show their colors even more. He shamelessly threatened Christ’s churches in NYC with permanent shutdown. Nero has spoken. Hospitals essential. Grocery markets essential. Churches? Banned. And, as an effect of long compounding compromise by churches, long deteriorating families, and superb success by government schools, the majority of New Yorkers probably heard this man smugly spout such venom without batting an eye.
Will pastors in NYC hear this from their mayor and take it lying down? I understand there is legitimate debate to be had among men of God as to whether Romans 13 calls us to comply with temporary orders from the government to close in the face of a disease. Richard Baxter himself thought the government could legitimately give such an order and churches should comply. I’m not convinced that governments can legitimately give such orders. I think to do so is for the government to overstep its God-given limits. Churches should individually determine such matters. That said, should we not find solidarity among the brethren in response to such a statement from De Blasio? Is it not clear that his intentions include malicious assault against the Bride of Christ? I think that, in light of this speech, NYC pastors should communicate with one another in order to established a unified effort to call the mayor’s bluff. Let all the churches open their doors on the same Sunday. Let those who are not at high risk for the flu gather together (without hugging or holy kissing). Let sermons be preached from pulpits reminding De Blasio that he is but a man, and that Christ is His King. Make him back down. Teach him humility through courageous gathering and preaching.
Appeasement does not appease the wolf.