Do you have rights? Is freedom something we should all champion in our world? Should you defend your liberties when they are threatened? I'm guessing that without too much heavy lifting mentally you will come to the quick answer of "Well, duh..." If you have given the topic of rights and freedoms any thought at all you are no doubt very concerned about what is happening in our world today. During 2020 we have seen our most basic freedoms and our fundamental human rights quickly dismissed, suspended, trampled upon, indeed, they have been outright steam-rolled. The government overreach is deeply concerning, but even more ominous has been the willingness of the public to simply go along with it all.
It is almost as if the government has a list of our constitutional freedoms in front of them, and they are trying to violate them all, gleefully checking the boxes as they do.
In Canada some of these would be:
2a. Freedom of conscience and religion (Put this mask on your face no matter how you feel about it. check. and no more church... check.)
2b. Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication (facebook jail, twitter warnings, articles down the memory hole, youtube videos disappeared, labeled a (fill in the blank)-denier... check.)
2c. Freedom of peaceful assembly (make it illegal to have someone over, no meetings, no events, no protests (unless its BLM...), no peaceful assembly...check.)
2d. Freedom of association (No associating with anybody...check.)
6 The right to enter, remain in and leave Canada (You can't come and go... check.)
7 The right to life, liberty and security of the person (No liberty, just obey!...check.)
9 The right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned (House arrest for everyone... 14 day quarantines...check.)
12 The right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment (Treat everyone as if they are a contagious leper, discourage usual human interactions like handshakes and hugging, tell everyone to put a bag over their heads...check.)
It's appalling when you stop to think about it. How have we let this happen?
Well, much of this has happened under the cover of Emergency Powers. Declaring a Public Health Emergency gives the government the ability to override certain rights and freedoms of the ordinary public. Not surprisingly these powers are supposed to be limited in scope and duration, and actually justifiable by a demonstrable emergency. And that is the trouble. Governments around the world have taken drastic measures in response to an "emergency" that they have declared. But declaring an emergency doesn't make it so. The burden of proof is on the government to justify their emergency measures with cold hard facts. Something that they have not done.
If we do not challenge these violations of our rights we are effectively giving the government carte blanche to do anything they wish. If we allow our liberties to be erased even temporarily we are inviting tyranny and unlimited government. To do nothing about this is to fail in your duty as a citizen.
As a Christian I believe in submitting to the governing authorities and living my life as a law-abiding citizen. I am not a lawless rebel. But when the government infringes my rights for no good reason, they are being lawless. It is not my duty to obey an unjust law. As Saint Augustine said, "an unjust law is no law at all". It is not my duty to submit to tyranny. This is because an authority that has broken it's bounds and is out of it's lane is a usurped and illegitimate authority. Francis Shaeffer said this while commenting on Romans 13: ‘the state is to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil by punishing the wrongdoer, and to protect the good in society. When it does the reverse, it has not proper authority. It is then a usurped authority and as such it becomes lawless and is tyranny.’
Christian's need to lead the way in the fight for freedom and human rights because they ought to know the source of those very rights. That is the theme I hope to develop in the next blog post as I ask the question "where do our rights come from?". The short answer for now is that our rights come from God not from government. We can stand on Canadian law, English law, or American law, and we should; but the strongest ground of all is God's law - written in the Bible and written on all our hearts.