Culture

Pastor Preaches Romans 13 to Rebuke Tyrannical Government as Police Block Drive-In Service on Maundy Thursday

Facebook screenshot of police blocking a church parking lot as a pastor preaches.

One day after police in Greenville, Miss., slapped Christians with $500 fines for attending a drive-in church service, a horde of cops descended on another church in the same city, effectively blocking the pastor from worshiping with his congregation on Maundy Thursday. The pastor preached regardless, turning to Romans 13 to rebuke the civil authorities.

Charles E. Hamilton Jr., the pastor of King James Bible Baptist Church, had raised the alarm on Facebook after police slapped Christians with $500 tickets at a drive-in service at nearby Temple Baptist Church. On Thursday, police converged on King James Bible Baptist Church in the lead-up to Hamilton’s own drive-in church service.

“Hey people of God, this is real,” Hamilton said in a live Facebook video. He said he predicted that his church would be next, and so it proved. “They’re here right now on church property before we even have service.”

“Police is everywhere,” he added.

The police is invaded the church rights.

Posted by Charles E. Hamilton Jr. on Thursday, April 9, 2020

Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) issued a stay-at-home order on April 1. On Wednesday, Reeves said he will not shut down churches, but he did encourage them not to hold Easter services in person.

“Mississippi is not China, and it never will be,” Reeves insisted.

Yet Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons, a Democrat who has endorsed Joe Biden, and the city council banned churches from hosting drive-in services on Tuesday.

The pastor said he was not angry at Simmons, and he prayed for both the mayor and the police at the beginning of the service.

Police cars, strategically parked on the road, apparently prevented parishioners from reaching the church parking lot for the drive-in service. Hamilton began preaching, anyway. He preached from Romans 13, which encourages Christians to submit to the earthly authorities.

“A lot of people have quoted Romans chapter 13, that we should submit to authority, but the Bible says in verse number 3, ‘for rulers are not a terror unto good works but to evil.’ So the Bible says that rulers should not be against good works. It is a good work to have church service. It’s a good work to tell people about Jesus,” Hamilton preached. The few cars in the audience honked in agreement.

“Their job is to make sure they stop the evildoers … not the good-doers, not the good citizens,” the pastor continued. “So you police officers, the purpose of you being the law is not to stop people from doing something good. The purpose of you being the law is to stop people doing something evil.”

Hamilton went on to cite Acts 5:26-29, when Peter speaks before the Sanhedrin and the High Preist, who had charged the apostles not to preach in Jesus’ name. “We are to obey God rather than man,” Peter said.

In a follow-up Facebook video, Hamilton said the police did not issue any tickets, but they threatened to do so when they return on Sunday.

Police is at King James Bible Baptist Church – Greenville, MS for our Thursday Evening Bible Study on 4/9/20. www.kingjamesbiblebaptist.com“A Place Where The Excitement Hasn’t Exited!”

Posted by Charles E. Hamilton Jr. on Thursday, April 9, 2020

The police came out to harass Hamilton even though the religious freedom law firm First Liberty sent Simmons a demand letter on Thursday, urging the mayor to retract the order. The demand letter claims that Simmons’ order violates the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion by singling out churches for unusual restrictions. Pastors like Hamilton are already following social distancing guidelines by preaching to people in their cars, so the ban does not represent the least intrusive means to achieve a compelling state interest.

“Religious liberty is not suspended during a pandemic. Americans can tolerate a lot if it means demonstrating love for their fellow man, but they will not—nor should not—tolerate churchgoers being ticketed by the police for following CDC guidelines at church. This has to stop now,” Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at First Liberty, told PJ Media in a statement on Thursday.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.