Pastor of Tampa church ..; arrested, jailed

Discussion in 'Civil Liberties' started by btthegreat, Mar 30, 2020.

  1. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    Title of the article is abridged due to length. Seems I have a choice on this one. Being as I hope to discuss the constitutional civil liberties issues here, rather than the virus itself, I posted this in the forum to discuss Church establishment v State narrowly and the freedom of assembly implications underpinning the quarantine more broadly. Here are the facts. https://www.wfla.com/news/hillsboro...church-violates-social-distancing-guidelines/
    "The pastor of a Tampa megachurch who held two services on Sunday for scores of worshippers was arrested Monday for violating a county order requiring residents to stay at home to limit the spread of coronavirus...
    Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, co-founder of the River at Tampa Bay Church, turned himself in to the Hernando County jail and was booked on Hillsborough charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency, jail records show...The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office warned Howard-Browne through his attorneys church leaders not to put the congregation at risk of contracting and spreading the virus by holding services at his church, Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a Monday news conference announcing that he had obtained a warrant for Howard-Browne’s arrest.
    Here is the Bible: Psalm 91
    "
    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;​
    Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
    There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling
    .

    Here is the constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

    Here is the infamous 'Lemon Test' under which statutes and regulations were scrutinized but which may be under sharp attack with the current majority ( Alito, Kavanaugh, Thomas, Gorsuch) on SCOTUS.
    1. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose. (Also known as the Purpose Prong)
    2. The principal or primary effect of the statute must neither advance nor inhibit religion. (Also known as the Effect Prong)
    3. The statute must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion. (Also known as the Entanglement Prong)
      Factors.
      1. Character and purpose of institution benefited.
      2. Nature of aid the state provides.
      3. Resulting relationship between government and religious authority.
    If any of these prongs are violated, the government's action is deemed unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
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  2. david gullikson

    david gullikson Banned

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    Most of that is done away with, by treating ESTABLISHMENT as intended, a VERB. Not a noun.

    If the gov was not allowed to prohibit the free exercise yadda yadda, they could not require churches to carry insurance, or malpractice for pastor and counselors etc.

    As for the bible, it says not to tempt the lord, nor ask for garish displays.

    The verse sited is one that is used to flout the guardianship of the planet, as God would NEVER allow man to screw things up.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  3. waltky

    waltky Well-Known Member

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    I bet he's got...

    ... a buncha slanty-eyed Chinamens...

    ... in his congregation!
     
  4. CKW

    CKW Well-Known Member

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    There is no persecution of religion..its a health issue covering all gatherings. The pastor should have respected the law.
     
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  5. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    Do you realize that these well educated men were taught grammar back as part of a classical education. They were taught Latin, Greek and French routinely. They certainly knew how to write a simple sentence using 'to establish' as a transitive verb, but they felt they needed structure it differently and add more, thus we have, '....or prohibiting the free exercise thereof'

    Now I am not arguing that there is not a case in favor of this arrest being upheld as consistent with the 10th amendment state powers, and the Lemon test applied to the first amendment, or that it is inconsistent with even broader judicial deference to executive or legislative authority under emergency powers. I am arguing that this may not an easy sell with the current majority considering that clause.

    Personally, I think it is constitutional, but the open ended nature of this is going to unnerve them. Effectively this closes down houses of worship for an indefinite period of time and it is going to be mimiced all over the country. Its a fairly draconian step with respect the first amendment.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
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  6. BillRM

    BillRM Well-Known Member

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    Well the religion people of that church could break this order in mass by gathering in front of the police department and letting the town full the jails to overflowing at the very time we are trying to lower the jail population for the same health reasons.

    Adults even religion adults had a right to gather either for religion reasons or to petition the government.

    Setting aside the Bill of Rights for questionable reason such as for example the suggestion of limiting the right of New Yorkers to leave their state that was floated only yesterday.

    How must freedoms are we all willing to give up in the name of public health?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  7. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    This isn't pink eye. Its about the decimation of entire classes of people, namely the elderly and the immunocompromised. You might have to compromise.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  8. jay runner

    jay runner Well-Known Member

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    It's not even a policy based on religion. Not at all. It has nothing to do with religion. These people were not singled out and picked upon by the country board of supervisors or the governor or anyone else to receive unequal treatment to persecute religion. The policy breaches EVERYBODY'S right to assemble in groups for a temporary period of time in an emergency for a secular reason, that is, an exceptionally communicable virus is spreading rapidly, and extreme measures are being used to attempt to stop it.

    People cannot assemble at the Salvador Dali Museum, the Busch Gardens, or the Florida Museum either as these are temporarily closed like almost everything else.

    Almost all churches everywhere are in agreement with this kind of temporary policy and support it. The Jehovah's Witnesses, who normally assemble like clockwork many times a week no matter what, are not going to the closed Kingdom Halls.

    Las Vegas is closed. The Grand Canyon is closed. No matter where you wish to assemble, you can't, and that goes for everyone.

    The policy is very reasonable and essential. Personally I would like to see harder teeth and claws in it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  9. Grey Matter

    Grey Matter Well-Known Member

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    I'm unsure of the meaning of this OP: it seems to make no statement, question, or argument; however it is a bit intriguing to me.

    My first somewhat filtered thought here is that, that we are even asking such a question may be why China and S. Korea have performed so well against this pandemic and why the US continues to struggle.
     
  10. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    Your position is completely logical and legally sound. As I said, if I were sitting on the court, applying the Lemon test,I would probably vote to uphold the arrest and conviction. But this is fundamentally very different from most of these cases where a specific practice is regulated or banned that happens to be consistent with a religious teaching, for example a ban on multiparty marriage was in direct conflict with LDS teachings.

    Banning a practice that happens to be supported and justified by the LDS church, and forbidding collective worship in all its Utah churches (basically boarding up the doors of the St. George Tabernacle, the LDS Temple, The Old Elsinore Mormon Church , The 17th Mormon Temple in Cedar City etc. simultaniously) for an indeterminate time are very different animals

    This has to give any church-goer fitful rest at night, having to wait for Caesar to take those boards off again. Even 220 years is a drop in the historic bucket of time compared to the centuries during which Caesar has abused and exploited 'crisis' to attack the shepards, the sheep and fenced off the grazing grounds and absconded with the title and rights

    These judges won't like this precedent no matter how necessary and secular in purpose, and I can hardly blame them. History is not resplendent with anecdotes of Church and State singing Kumbayah together after churches sat quietly by while the state banned attendance in synagogues, or churches, or mosques etc. Its just not a happy narrative.

    Appellate courts are not unaware that the very same history is the reason we have a first amendment protection for religious practice and worship. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" That is not wishy washy language. This is a very sour pickle and I predict its not going to go down the gullets of a majority of SCOTUS very well at all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  11. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    See post #10. I am clearer.
     
  12. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    You're simply wrong. No constitutional rights have ever been unconditional an there is nothing special about this situation compared to any of the countless legal interventions in people's lives that essentially restrict some right or other. The fact it involves a church in this case is largely irrelevant since the phrase "the right of the people peaceably to assemble" would apply to everyone in this case.
     
  13. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    You are simply unable to understand my point or more to the point ignoring it. I have researched the law. "Your position is completely logical and legally sound. As I said, if I were sitting on the court, applying the Lemon test,I would probably vote to uphold the arrest and conviction. Those were the first sentences I typed just so that I would not keep getting answers like yours. You really think I don't know that all constitutional rights have boundaries? The first line of my op invites us to discuss this based on either the establishment clause or the subsequent language involving the broader issue of assembly Shall I offer up a list of cases where SCOTUS has surprised legal scholars the vast majority of which were as sure they could well predict the outcome based on the law. The principles of law guiding this decision are not unprecedented. Churches have been closed down temporarily by state and local governments for all sorts of secular reasons including zoning questions, building code violations, as part of a crime scene investigation, and as prequel in a church property ownership dispute. it is scope and breadth of the application here that is totally without precedent.

    Never before has state after state closed down all houses of worship within its borders simultaneously. Now you can point out the indiscriminate nature of this as clear evidence of a lack of bias. Now you can compare this to coffee shops, convention centers, and other clearly secular applications in a quarantine as a defense to its secular nature, or you can point out that the right to assemble is equally curtailed in protest marches, in political gatherings, at weddings, or at funerals and at the local society of atheist meeting, as though the establishment clause language is blurred in this wide view lens. But I am telling you that this SCOTUS are going to look hard for ways to avoid this clear and convincing victory based on constitutional law and precedent you seem to see as so obvious.

    Do you know what SCOTUS does when they really don't want to decide a case on its existing legal merits or precedent because the social or cultural or legal implications seem too large for their comfort? Well they find grounds not to decide a case on the existing legal merits or precedent or they alter applicable legal standard on which they were expected to weigh each side of the call and effectively nudge the goal posts one side has to run towards. If they cannot find a loophole to get through and avoid validating a government action, they create one

    Among my personal favorites in times like these is to call the language or standard in the statute overly broad to meet the more narrow legislative purpose, the governmental efforts to curtail or minimize a draconian constitutional impact insufficient, or the language too vague/ ambiguous. I don't know how they will avoid this, but I think they will.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  14. jay runner

    jay runner Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't want the government to ban rattlesnakes in churches, if that is still the penchant of some. But I would like to see a requirement for more emergency exits that open easily from the inside if a church does use rattlesnakes.

    Also, for those wanting more understanding of this particular arrested pastor, I recommend Hank Hanegraaff's 1997 book, Counterfeit Revival. Especially if it rubs you the wrong way if a pastor says he's the Holy Ghost bartender and invites people to belly up to the bar.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  15. jay runner

    jay runner Well-Known Member

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    "It is scope and breadth of the application here that is totally without precedent."

    Nothing like this has been seen for 102 years, and public health knowledge has advanced considerably over those years.
     
  16. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    I know that too, Jay. I I also know this is the internet age, and the options for communal religious worship are not trapped in the 19th century. Lest you are under a mistaken impression, I am glad that pastor was arrested. I am fond of the idea that churches and clerics need to learn to obey all laws and not pick and choose among them. I certainly am not a fan of giving them carte blanche to disobey quarantines. I find what he did repugnant. I just think this conservative court will be very hinky about providing these states with that clear and clean win you and I prefer because they will be thing about handing over a machete to do something when they want state governments look harder for a scalpel .
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  17. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I got the key point about the specific charges against this pastor. I was suggesting you're wrong about how SCOTUS will respond to the wider issue.

    They haven't closed down houses of worship now either.

    I'm not convinced. I don't see why they would or could treat this as any kind of special case. There isn't even a guarantee they'd be called upon to make any ruling on the matter. It seems to be a relatively minor incident that is being blown out of all proportion, probably because there isn't much other news to talk about. :cool:
     
  18. btthegreat

    btthegreat Well-Known Member

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    No. states and local govts tried to apply the rules on 'social distancing' and quarantine to those church services irrespective of their size, and practicalities in application, just as they have every other venue. The effect is similar to closure if the churches successfully encourage high attendance sunday mornings. In this instance the county worked overtime going out of their way to avoid this fight by literally planting extra reminders and warning signs along the streets on the way to the church! They were begging parisheners to be smart just as they worked for an amicable solution using internet technology, televised services broadcast in separate rooms or venues, alternating service times etc. It's also being blown out of proportion because it is simple to understand, it involves cultural and generational divides and symbols and will work as a perfect dog-whistle issue for both bases and the media.

    A lot depends on how long these quarantines last, but if there are convictions based on these temporary measure, there will be appeals regardless. These are not the kind of defendants that will not fight this all the way, and their allies have plenty of money and incentive to keep the righteous flames ablaze
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  19. chris155au

    chris155au Well-Known Member

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    My initial response is on a very basic level. From what I understand, the local authority - the county I believe - had an order that "non-essential" businesses have to abide by the CDC's social distancing guidelines, and if they're unable to do that then they have to shut down. Well first of all, churches are not businesses, so they are idiots if they thought that using that term would reasonably include churches. Secondly, why couldn't they have simply stated places of worship in the order? That would seem to be the sensible thing to do. Here in Australia, a NATIONAL order was introduced on the evening of March 22. Our Prime Minister announced a series of restrictions, one of which was places of worship. So that's pretty damn clear. This means that it is irrelevant what social distancing efforts can be used in any given place of worship - even if there is only 5 members in attendance with 20 metres of space between them, they simply cannot meet.
     
  20. chris155au

    chris155au Well-Known Member

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    @btthegreat, is places of worship specified in ANY US jurisdiction?
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  21. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    religion, speech and guns are all constitutional rights, but when one misuses any of them to endanger society, there can be consequences

    that said, I am sure this will go no where, it's all for show to show how serious the state is, once it's over this case will probably be dropped eventually

    people could use freedom of speech to allow concerts to stay open too or other events - it's a right... right
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  22. chris155au

    chris155au Well-Known Member

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    Do you know if places of worship is specified in any US jurisdiction's coronavirus lockdown rules?
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  23. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    this guy was arrested, so I guess there is one place

    most churches\mosques just do not hold services because they care about their members and community

    look at this case

    "‘None of Us Have a Fear of Corona’: The Faithful at an Outbreak’s Center"

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/world/asia/coronavirus-malaysia-muslims-outbreak.html

    "A gathering of 16,000 at a Malaysian mosque became the pandemic’s largest known vector in Southeast Asia, spreading the coronavirus to half a dozen countries."
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
  24. chris155au

    chris155au Well-Known Member

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    No, from what I've read, it seems to be have been justified by a simple lack of following social distancing orders. Deciding to meet is one thing, but it's beyond belief that they didn't even take measures to practice social distancing.
     
  25. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    right, so they applied to him as well, the churches are not exempt

    no one believes just because it's a church, that you can't spread the virus there
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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