Going 50 in a 55

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Introduction

This afternoon we are going have another flash psalm sing, 5 pm at city hall. I heard we might have some weather, so please come prepared and/or dressed for that.

We are going to be singing O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name, and Jesus Shall Reign.

I wrote up a few FAQs for our people, and thought it would be good to share them with you all here as well.

Why Disobey the Law?

The answer to this one is simple. We are not disobeying the law. We have every legal and constitutional right to be doing what we are doing. If a real pandemic would not erase the Constitution, as it would not, still less should a complete absence of a medical emergency erase the Constitution. And what we are facing here in Latah County is the specter of a complete absence of a medical emergency.

We are singing hymns to God. This is a constitutionally protected activity. We are doing it in a peaceful assembly. This also is a constitutionally protect activity. We are doing this in such a way as to indicate that we desire a redress of our grievances, which is also a constitutionally protected activity. Nothing about what we are doing is illegal.

And that means that writing misdemeanor citations for such activities is out of line, and contrary to our entire legal tradition.

Why Not Just Go Along Anyway?

If for some reason the police are ticketing people for going 50 in a 55, why don’t you just comply? Why don’t you just go along with it?

The answer here is straightforward. We don’t work for them. They work for us.

Why Singing?

The answer is that singing is powerful. A number of years ago, Nancy and I watched a powerful documentary about Estonia’s fight for freedom back in the Soviet era. Peter Leithart just reminded me of it, and I am including the trailer below. Watch the documentary and be inspired.

In addition, singing hymns to God is a clear testimony and recognition of what we need to recover if our nation is to recover. We have forgotten God. There is no way out unless we remember God. And we cannot remember God apart from the gospel of a crucified and risen Lord. And when we come back to Him through that gospel, we sing.

Peaceful Protest?

We have gotten word that a number of people from around the area may be coming to join us today, and they are all most welcome. We have chosen songs for today that will be familiar to most Christians, and we welcome anyone who wants to join us. At the same time as we are welcoming all guests, we want to emphasize that this really is a peaceful protest (PP), and not a pyrotechnical Portland peaceful protest (PPPP). The joy of the Lord is our strength, and so we would encourage everyone who gathers with us to also join with us in our demeanor of disciplined and respectful joy.

On a related note, if anyone joining us today is exercising their constitutional right to carry, we ask that you do it discretely, and not in a flamboyant way. We don’t want to dilute our message, or distract from it in any way. As important as the Second Amendment is, that is not our focus today.

Are We Being Truthful?

A number of people have objected that when we say people were arrested “for singing psalms,” this is inaccurate. A more complete statement would be that “they were arrested for singing psalms unmasked within six feet of someone not in their household.” Even more complete would be to say that those who were arrested Wednesday were arrested for failure to produce ID when asked. All of these statements are true enough, beginning with the first one. We all know how this works in other situations. If someone is pulled over for “driving while black,” and we all know that it wasn’t really because of the tail light, even though the tail light might have been out, we know what is happening. It is the same thing here. Our people gathered to sing psalms, a protected and exempted activity, and that is why the cops were sent. So the short hand form of expressing it is fine. People were cited and arrested because they came to a psalm sing.

Are the Monkeys Out of the Cage?

Gabe Rench did a good job talking about this on Laura Ingraham last night. And the story was also on Tucker Carlson last night, and I hear that Gabe is being interviewed by Glen Beck today. But I also noticed various inaccuracies floating around, and we can expect a lot more of that as the story ramps up.

If you are flicking your lighter in a room full of fumes, you can exercise all the thumb control you want, but that will not give you control of the aftermath. Martin Luther posted something on the bulletin, and first thing you know, Europe was completely different.

This is simply the nature of the course of human events. Volatile political situations remain volatile, and we need to be sure we never kid ourselves. We need to remember a number of things, and hold them all together. Jesus went to the cross like a lamb before its shearers (Is. 53:7). His disciples are called to imitate Him in this (John 15:18). At the same time, there were numerous occasions where the Jerusalem officials held off arresting Jesus because they were afraid of what the pro-Jesus populace might do (Mark 12:12), which would have included rioting. Not part of the Jesus plan, but the Jesus plan takes account of this kind of thing.

This is the arena we are operating in. We did not create it, it was handed to us by people who hate all the blessings God has given our people. For many months now, hundreds of thousands of Americans have been watching, appalled and dismayed, as rioters have been burning down their America, with feckless politicians requiring their law enforcement personnel to stand down and watch it.

Primer on Rights

An attorney friend has posted the following, which I am passing on to you.

1. When dealing with the police always be polite, respectful, and cheerful. Don’t argue. They are trained to ignore you. You will never win an argument with a cop.

2. If you are at the psalm sing and a police officer asks you randomly to identify yourself you are not required to do so. HOWEVER, if a police officer tells you he is going to give you a citation, in that case you are required to identify yourself. If you refuse you will probably will be be arrested – not for whatever the citation is for, but for resisting and obstructing. We want any arrests to focus on the real issue (masks and singing psalms), not the side issue of failing to show ID.

3. Other than the above, you are not required to answer questions. If a police officer asks you any questions at any time you can politely let him know that you will not answer them. The burden is on him to prove the person you are three feet away from is not a household member; you never have to give that information.

4. If you do get cited or arrested, you can make the city prove it’s case. You don’t have to plead guilty. You don’t have to take any deals. You can make the city either dismiss the case or take it to a jury trial. You don’t have to make it easy on them.

GD

To all this, I would add some additional information with regard to #2. If you don’t have your ID on you, that is fine. You don’t need to have ID on you. Say, for a purely hypothetical example, you left your ID in the car. But in that case, you can just tell the officer your name, and you have done all that is needed. So we would encourage you to feel free to identify yourself if you are being cited. That is no problem at all. But in the spirit of what I am going to say below, don’t judge your brother or sister if they don’t produce ID. There may well be good reasons for that.

Another Man’s Servant?

This is a small town. What are we to make of those friends or family who are involved in law enforcement, and who are conflicted about this whole business? We want to follow the same template we have followed from the beginning in this.

“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

Romans 14:4 (KJV)

This is a pattern we have sought to follow, for example, when it comes to wearing masks at church. If someone is wearing a mask, don’t judge them. If someone is not wearing a mask, don’t judge them.

In the same way, if the police have done something they oughtn’t to have done, like citing people for singing unmasked and too close to somebody, and you know a Christian on the force, don’t judge your brother without all the facts. You have no idea what kind of conversations are taking place behind the scenes. And if there are good guys behind the scenes, we want our behavior to strengthen their hand, not weaken it. Don’t be too quick to assume that you know all the factors. King Ahab was a wicked king, and Obadiah was one of his courtiers (1 Kings 18:3). If you condemned him on the optics alone, you would be condemning a godly man who feared the Lord greatly, and who labored to save the lives of numerous prophets. So do not pronounce too quickly or too boldly about what other servants of the Lord should do. If you don’t know specifics, be very careful.

What I would say (pastorally) to any Christian employed in our local law enforcement departments is this. You need to have a principled and clear line in your own mind and conscience that you know you will not cross, and then you need to make a point before God of not crossing it. And that line needs to be determined by biblical principle, and not by personal convenience.

At the Same Time . . .

In my description of Wednesday’s psalm sing, I said this:

The policemen who were involved in citing and arresting people for singing hymns really ought to be heartily ashamed of themselves. I know that our cops hate the position the city has put them in, and they have my sympathy as far as that goes. But they still need to review this question for themselves — how bad do the orders have to get before you do your duty by refusing to enforce them?

Mablog yesterday

The optics on this whole thing are very plain. Part of the reason they are so bad is that all over the country, the great blessing of law enforcement is under attack. Our local sheriff put out a press release yesterday, and I wanted to point out one part of it that I wholeheartedly agreed with. And I really do. That part is the “perhaps more than ever.”

“Perhaps more than ever, those of us in law enforcement need everyone’s support and assistance, not resistance and interference. We encourage everyone to peacefully and lawfully express their beliefs as is our constitutional right.”

Richard Skiles, Latah County Sheriff

As cops put their lives on the line to protect us from thugs, thieves, rapists, predators, and the rest of that grimy lot, the response all across the country from leftist activists and agitators has been one of violence and unrelenting vilification. And in that climate, the mayor of Moscow, and the Moscow city council, directed our police force to write people up while they were singing Amazing Grace.

Yeah, the optics are terrible. But we didn’t create them — we exposed them. This untenable situation was created by our completely unresponsive city officials. And the fact that America is now staring at our small town, jaws agape, is the result, not of our disregard for the law, but rather our city government’s disregard for the law.

Stay tuned.