Friday, August 21, 2020
The Conservative Baptist Network strongly affirms and applauds Dr. John MacArthur’s courageous stand for religious liberty against the grossly unconstitutional actions against him, Grace Community Church, and other churches by Los Angeles County and the State of California.
While individual local churches have every right to differ on the wisdom of meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic, we find no “we’re afraid” exception in the First Amendment. The Free Exercise and Freedom of Assembly Clauses are the bedrock of American liberty, and are granted by God, not the State. And if the State may infringe them indefinitely in the name of “emergency,” the State need not observe them at all.
Moreover, in this specific case, the government is clearly singling out churches for this persecution, while exempting gatherings advocating speech it supports. This is the very definition of tyranny, and further renders the State’s actions unconstitutional.
The Conservative Baptist Network affirms America’s Constitutional protection of religious liberty, as well as The Baptist Faith and Message of the Southern Baptist Convention, which states in Article XVII on “Religious Liberty,” that, “The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends.”
We wish to express our deep appreciation for the ministry of Dr. MacArthur. His sermons, conferences, and writings have been a blessing to the body of Christ for decades. Dr. MacArthur’s unwavering commitment to the sufficiency and authority of Scripture is an example to believers around the world and is at the heart of the mission of our network.
But now, Dr. MacArthur and his church are willingly, intentionally risking bankruptcy and imprisonment for their faith. We pray that we too would have such courage and willingness to stand in the face of persecution. They are examples to us all.
We call upon the members of our Network and all believers everywhere to join us in speaking out against this tyranny, and in prayer and support for Dr. MacArthur and Grace Community Church as they prepare for the upcoming legal battle, currently scheduled for September 4th. We further call for similar prayer and support for all other churches facing similar persecution, and such direct action as may be required “for such a time as this.”
The Conservative Baptist Network is a broad based grassroots movement of Southern Baptists of all generations who are committed to the sufficiency of Scripture for all facets of life and application. Its 54-member Steering Council includes pastors and laypeople from across America, including well-known figures such as former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, past SBC President Charles Stanley, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Vice President Tom Phillips, and immediate past SBC Executive Committee Chairman Mike Stone. It can be found online at ConservativeBaptistNetwork.com.