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Freedom to Worship in Santa Clara County

Dear Members of the Board,

Thank you for your careful consideration of matters throughout this pandemic. No doubt, this one of the most difficult seasons of leadership you have faced. You have the unenviable task of making decisions where all options result in many upset citizens in Santa Clara County. We pray for your wisdom and your well-being 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

Having acknowledged this, however, we must register our own objections to recent county decisions handed down through public health mandates. Much of this debate has been framed around relative risks, the importance of economic growth, etc. We are not medical experts, and furthermore, we do not wish to enter the cacophony of pragmatic judgments by levying our own. Our concerns are a matter of principle.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. We do not believe this because it comes from the pen of Thomas Jefferson or the writings of the founding fathers, but because it comes from the word of God, which confirms the same Genesis 1:26; Proverbs 29:7. Among these, the rights of free movement, peaceable assembly, and religious worship have always been recognized.

Perhaps you consider yourself wiser than the generation that founded this country. Perhaps you believe that as a society we have progressed beyond such antiquated notions of a Creator, free to promote equality and rights on firmer foundations. Yet what firmer foundations are there? Apart from humanity being created in a shared image of God, what grounds do we have for promoting equality? Apart from rights being given by God, what grounds do we have for preserving rights? These things would be a communal fiction, malleable, formed by the whims of each successive generation. And yet, we live in a time when people recognize that the evils of the past were not justified by the presence of societal consensus. Rights must be grounded in the unchanging Almighty, or they are no rights at all. The founding fathers knew that built on anything other than the bedrock of our Creator, liberty will only erode.

Quicker than any other region in the nation, you were willing to suspend these rights that were not yours to suspend. Quicker than any other region in the nation, you were willing to engage in the partiality of deciding “essential” activities and “non-essential” activities, which freedoms would remain and which would be taken away. Rather than merely estimating health risks, you have made value judgments, permitting that which seems sufficiently valuable and forbidding that which seems insufficiently valuable. You permit abortion clinics to run, not because they are relatively safe, but because you cherish the murder of the unborn. You forbid gathered singing—even outdoors, with masks, for as few as two people—not because it is more dangerous than all other permitted activities, but because you depreciate the worship of God. On what basis do you make these value judgments? Do you lay claim to a perspective higher than those who would disagree?

We call you to repent from these acts of injustice. Continue to make public health guidelines; we value them and have followed them as much as we are able. Shut down activities that inherently promote death; this should have been done even before the pandemic. But do not employ the force of law to restrict unalienable rights. Some have praised you for these acts of petty tyranny, but the God who made you does not, and to him you will one day give an account Matthew 12:36. Steeped in our own erring sensibilities, we can only stand condemned, but there is great forgiveness in Christ Colossians 1:13-14, who holds all the treasures of wisdom Colossians 2:3.

On behalf of Silicon Valley Reformed Baptist Church,

Conley Owens
Josh Sheldon