In order to understand what I am going to be urging here, you will need to read the previous entry, the press release about the prosecution of my son and two grandsons. If you have read that, you will have been apprised of the basic facts of the matter, and what I am going to discuss here will make better sense. Not that the whole situation makes any sense, but maybe we can get far enough as to understand that much.
One of the things that my father-in-law taught his kids was the principle that you should always act as though the second crime scene will be worse than the first. If some stranger tries to grab you in order to get you into his van, you should have the showdown right there on the sidewalk because where he wants to take you is going to be worse than whatever it is he is doing right now. The second crime scene will be worse than the first.
So I Have a Few Things to Add
The panicked and power-tripping actions of our civil authorities in response to COVID have been the first crime scene. The reason for our stiff resistance here in Moscow on this point (psalm sings, no masks, etc.) has been based on this common sense principle. If we put up with this kind of tyrannical overreach, it is not going to get any better. Power is an intoxicant, and if asked to back up my statement, I would simply point to the behavior of everyone involved in this pig’s breakfast of a prosecution. These people are drunk on something, and it is not the spirit of give and take.
Meditate on my summary of the affair. This is the first prosecution ever in the history of the ordinance. That’s worthy of comment, right there. On top of that, the ordinance does not even forbid what is alleged to have been done. None of the body cam footage, from any of the police officers, is available. Oops, sorry. The boys involved, my grandsons, are not in any way hooligans, but are rather intelligent and public-spirited citizens of our town who simply objected to the arrests made at our psalm sing, arrests that were later deemed by the city to have been as lame as we knew at the time they were.
The point here is not that the city is going to succeed in putting my son and grandsons in jail. The point is that they are certainly willing to threaten it, and are willing to claim their right to do so. Moreover, they are willing to spend a lot of money to make that claim.
But our liberties do not evaporate simply because compromised public officials decide to blather contradictory things in a panic. By the way, how did your family celebrate the first anniversary of “fourteen days to flatten the curve?” Do you Americans intend to find out how it was that Alberta drifted to the point where a pastor could be hauled off to jail because he insisted upon his obligation to fulfill his calling as a minister? However did they get to that second crime scene?
Are you prepared to do whatever they say to mitigate the threat of climate change? Do your liberties extend only as far as their panicky fears will allow?
To this it may be objected, and will be objected, with a cursory exegetical wave at Romans 13, that the apostle Paul called upon the brethren to roll over no matter what the civil magistrate requires of us. We know how cooperative the apostle Paul was in all such matters because of his multiple arrests, how many times he was flogged (2 Cor. 11:25), his escape from King Aretas in a basket (2 Cor. 11:32), his adroit use of the Roman legal system (Acts 16: 38-40; 25:11; 28:19), and by how he got his head chopped off at the end. A model citizen in every way.
When we had our psalm sing showdown with the city of Moscow, and various Christians were telling us to submit to the law, our point was that it was the city of Moscow that was not submitting to the law. They were the ones not following their own ordinance. This understanding of ours was later acknowledged by the city of Moscow to have been correct. They dropped the charges against those they arrested, doing so because somebody at the city apparently got around to reading their own ordinance.
And now they are making the same blunder again, apparently wanting to keep the citizenry on their toes. No telling what legal activity might get prosecuted next.
The Supreme Court has recently slapped down some of California’s restrictions on worship. Now, let me ask you. Those California churches that resisted at the first crime scene, and who were admonished by other Christians at the time to “just get in the van, Romans 13, and besides the nice man said he had some candy for us”—was their understanding of their rights and responsibilities vindicated by the Supreme Court? And doesn’t this mean that the reading of the law by the get-in-the-van Christians was repudiated by the Supreme Court? And doesn’t this mean that the get-in-the-van Christians were not submitting to the authorities established by God (Rom. 13:1-7)?
For those who have an expansive view of these things, we do acknowledge that there may eventually come a time when the Supreme Court tells us to get in the van, but that is another discussion. For now, the people who looked like they were disregarding the law were the ones obeying it, and the ones who looked like they were submitting to everything were the ones disregarding the law.
But back to our situation. Here is the bottom line. The city of Moscow is prosecuting a very modest exercise of free speech because they are very thin-skinned about the mistakes they have made in their blundering overreach. They are doing this in a highly selective and irrational way, and they have pursued it this far because the three they are prosecuting have the last name of Wilson.
Please Stay Between the Velvet Ropes
If you thought that all of this was going to end with a call to action, you were not mistaken.
But I would like to make something very clear at the outset. I am calling on all our friends for the most robust response possible, but by this I mean a robust response consistent with our calling as Christians. In other words, stay between the velvet ropes. No doxxing, no fulminating, nothing that could be fairly construed by any reasonable person as a threat to anyone’s personal safety. If there is any of that, it is not from us. We don’t function that way.
Our response to the jitney tyrannies thus far has been prayer, the singing of psalms, legal protests, etc. The city officials who are pursuing this are our adversaries and enemies, and so we are under orders to ask God to bless them (Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:14). Part of any such blessing would of course include them coming to their senses and dropping the case, but we really would love nothing more than God blessing them richly, and in all kinds of ways. We fully intend to keep our hearts and minds oriented this way. If you are of a similar mind, we invite you to join us.
That said, here’s what you can do.
Call the city of Moscow, and politely inquire something along the lines of what the heck? A good number to use is 208-883-7000. Ask them if their selective prosecutions have not already embarrassed our city enough. You might also want to write to the mayor (Bill Lambert), and the members of the city council.
In case you are wondering, you don’t need to donate anything just yet, but you can make a mental note of that as a possibility. The city of Moscow has already spent tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money in the prosecution of this particular notcrime, and so if we are on this train all the way to the Supreme Court (for stickers on poles! and I know that good writers don’t usually want to rely on exclamation points, but . . . for stickers on poles!!!!), we might think about supplementing our current war chest. We are fine right now, but if that eventuality comes to pass, please know we will not be shy about asking.
And last, stand by for more psalm sings or the like. We will keep you posted.