By Katie Kieffer
45% of Catholics and 39% of “Protestant/Other-denomination” Christians voted Democrat in the 2016 Presidential Election, according to Pew. In other words, Christians have the power to swing the 2020 election—and a responsibility to exercise this power in a way that upholds Biblical values and religious freedom.
Churches have been barred from holding normal public worship for nearly three months. Restraints on churches have been most severe in Democrat-ruled areas. Democrats claim they “clean up the messes made by Republicans,” yet Christian oppression is strongest in cities like Chicago, Louisville, Madison and Holly Springs and in states like New York and California that are long-time Democrat strongholds.
Christians have a moral obligation to consider the horrific harassment of fellow Christians when voting in November. Here are six recent examples of Christian persecution in areas ruled by Democrats that occurred in April, March and early May:
- 8.3 million citizens threatened with permanent shutdown of public worship by New York City’s Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio.
- A black church burned to the ground in Holly Springs, Mississippi days after the church sued the City—helmed by Democrat Mayor Kelvin Buck—for using law enforcement to break up its Easter service.
- Squad cars sent to stop Easter Sunday worship at a black church by Chicago’s Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
- $500 per-person fines slapped on parishioners who attended CDC-compliant drive-up services in Greenville, Mississippi to enforce a ban by Democrat Mayor Errick Simmons. Fines were lifted only after churches sued the City of Greenville and the Department of Justice intervened.
- Outdoor Easter Sunday drive-in style worship outlawed by a Louisville’s Democrat Mayor Greg Fischer; a ruling so onerous that it received a restraining order from a federal judge.
- A priest and congregation threatened with fines for questioning a 50-person attendance limit in a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin—helmed by Democrat Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Democrat Governor Tony Evers.
After Memorial Day, many civil rights protests in Democrat areas evolved into riots that included arson and vandalism of churches. Today, I’ll show why Christians who typically vote Democrat must earnestly and prayerfully consider voting for the Republican presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump, in 2020.
Churches in Flames
First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs in Mississippi sued the City of Holly Springs in April after the City used law enforcement to break up both its Easter service and Bible study. The Easter service was held outside. Only about 35 people attended, but they moved inside at the last minute due to inclement weather. The 10-person Bible study, held shortly after Easter, was 100% compliant with social distancing protocol.
Evidently, someone was upset about First Pentecostal’s lawsuit defending its constitutional and inalienable right to free religious expression. Because, on May 20, First Pentecostal Church of Holly Springs was burned to the ground.
“I Bet you stay home now you hypokrits [sic]” was the torcher’s graffiti message that greeted heartbroken parishioners at the crime scene. An arson investigation is underway.
Holly Springs, Mississippi is run by a Democrat Mayor and located in Marshall County. The majority of voters in Marshall County have voted for the Democrat in every presidential election since 1976.
Rioters in Democrat-run towns used fire to damage at least four churches in May:
- The historic Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis (a city run by Democrat Mayor Jacob Frey and Democrat Governor Tim Walz) had pews burned. The historic Basilica was built in 1871 and is the first basilica established in the United States.
- Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City (run by Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio and Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo) was not burned but was desecrated with graffiti. Erected in 1879, it is deemed one of the most dominant symbols of the Catholic Church in America.
- St. John’s Episcopal in Washington, D.C. (run by Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser) was desecrated by “peaceful protesters” who set a roaring fire in its basement and a bonfire on its steps; broke a window; graffitied; and tore and burned its flag. The church is located across from the White House and almost every U.S. president has prayed in this historic house of worship built in 1816.
- Lewis Street Church of Christ in Little Rock (a city run by Democrat Mayor Frank Scott Jr.) was burned on May 31—the same night hundreds of protestors flooded downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. Photos on the church’s Facebook page indicate it was essentially destroyed.
“YOU DON’T BURN CHURCHES IN AMERICA,” President Trump tweeted.
Historians who understand America’s founding know President Trump’s claim rings true. America’s founders called religious freedom “our first freedom, because they understood that the one thing that a totalitarian regime will never allow are citizens who hold allegiance to one higher than the government,” explains First Liberty Institute CEO Kelly Shackelford.
Taking Religious Freedom to the Highest Court
Even after the COVID-19 curve not only “flattened” but took a steady downward trajectory in places like San Diego County—California churches were limited to 100 people regardless of venue size. Christians need to understand that churches and religious freedom are being targeted by leftist politics.
I had the honor of interviewing South Bay Pentecostal’s Bishop Arthur Hodges about his church’s case for injunctive relief from Democrat California Governor Gavin Newsom’s public worship restrictions that made its way to the Supreme Court in May.
To be clear, the church did not lose its case—only its attempt at injunctive relief. The case of South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom will continue to play out in the court system.
“Our approach is a combination of Matthew 18 and Romans 13,” Bishop Hodges told me. “I’m not political. I have nothing against the Governor. We’re just trying to exercise what we believe is the singular reason this nation was founded. Legal [action] was a last resort.”
Bishop Hodges first tried approaching Governor Newsom directly—handing him a personal letter through a mutual friend. When the letter was ignored, Bishop Hodges joined a coalition of churches. The Governor led them to believe that religious restrictions would be substantially lifted on May 8. But, May 8 came, and churches were completely left out despite restrictions being lifted on many nonessential entities. At that point, Bishop Hodges decided to take the case to court.
A Catholic bishop, Jewish rabbi and Mormon leader initially planned to join Bishop Hodges’s lawsuit against Gov. Newsom but they unfortunately backed out at the last minute.
“I’d like to see an affirmation that the U.S. Constitution protects churches from every whim of a governor,” Bishop Hodges told me. “Whether a believer or not, you should care [about this case]. This is about free speech. It’s not an accident that it’s number one in the Bill of Rights.”
“This is not about safety,” Bishop Hodges emphasized. “We’ve complied with every CDC restriction and even the Governor’s over-reaching restrictions. Ultimately, no one can guarantee safety. But we are complying—despite the unconstitutionality. No honest shepherd will put his flock at risk. Pastors care more about people than the government.”
Churches are not political. Most are doing their best to follow—and even exceed—the government’s “safety” rules. But the rules have become tyrannical. Candy stores and liquor stores have fewer restrictions. Christians should continue to follow this case carefully.
Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden
“I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation,” President Trump said on June 1 before visiting John’s Episcopal—and holding up his Bible (upon which he swore the oath) in a sign that he understood America’s roots and will “defend our great country.”
“For the first time, the United States has in you a President who courageously defends the right to life, who is not ashamed to denounce the persecution of Christians throughout the world, who speaks of Jesus Christ and the right of citizens to freedom of worship,” the Vatican’s Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò wrote in a powerful letter to President Trump on June 7.
Contrast President Trump with Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden…
Christians are “like terrorists,” Joe Biden said only eight months ago when he called for a registry of religious organizations which hold “hateful” (orthodox) views on marriage. Meanwhile, Biden claims to be a Catholic although the Catholic Church holds orthodox beliefs on marriage.
Most recently, Biden mocked President’s Trump’s stance of solidarity with Christians at a time when they increasingly find their places of worship locked or burned: “The president held up the Bible at St. John’s Church yesterday. I just wish he opened it once in a while.”
Biden consistently supports forcing taxpayer dollars to go toward abortions. Christians don’t need a president like Biden—who evidently reads neither the Bible nor the Catholic Catechism.
Where is Pope Francis and American Bishops?
Politicians (of any party) will be more motivated to uphold religious freedom if they receive pressure from prominent religious leaders. If churches timidly accept unconstitutional rules, many politicians will capitalize on such cowardice and seize more power. Catholic leaders, particularly, must be more outspoken in defense of religious freedom in America.
Seattle, Washington Archbishop Paul D. Etienne was the first U.S. Catholic bishop to run for the hills. In early March, he indefinitely suspended all public Masses.
American Cardinal Raymond Burke has courageously criticized the suspension of public Masses due to COVID-19, but few prominent Catholic leaders have followed suit:
“Even as we have found a way to provide for food and medicine and other necessities of life during a time of contagion, without irresponsibly risking the spread of the contagion, so, in a similar way, we can find a way to provide for the necessities of our spiritual life,” Cardinal Burke said in a statement.
Pope Francis, the world’s most prominent religious figure, should call out Christian persecution—due to COVID-19 restrictions on the celebration of the Mass and administration of the Sacraments (like Holy Communion, Marriage, and Anointing of the Sick) that are unfounded in reason or science. So should American bishops—instead of cowering to Democrats like bishops in Washington state.
President Trump is pro-life and defends the rights of American families to worship together in public—but because he enforces American immigration law, Pope Francis has unjustly likened him to “King Herod”—a historic murderer of innocent baby boys—and even the perpetrator of the Holocaust—Hitler. Pope Francis should use his platform to defend the inalienable rights of Americans to peacefully worship in public.
Christians have a moral duty to vote their conscience—and defend religious freedom.
As Archbishop Viganò elegantly explains: “It is important that the good – who are the majority – wake up from their sluggishness and do not accept being deceived by a minority of dishonest people with unavowable purposes. It is necessary that the good, the children of light, come together and make their voices heard.” Prayer, says Viganò, is our most effective way to make our voices heard.
The ballot box is the second-most effective way. Pray now. In November, vote against Christian persecution by Democrats. Freedom of religion is the most fundamental freedom of speech.