Religious Freedom Prevails in Silicon Valley as the Church Takes on the Mountain of Politics!

 In Articles, Drenda On Guard, Government

During the course of my twenty-seven years in ministry, I have been repeatedly asked whether the church should be involved in politics. My default response has always been “yes,” as government and politics affect every aspect of a believer’s life—from fundamental freedoms to personal finances. But as I ponder this question more and more, it has become clear to me that the church is inextricably involved in politics whether we like it or not. In fact, we are smack-dab in the middle of a political war that is raging both in our nation and on a global scale. Thus, the real question is not whether Christians should participate in politics but is: Which kingdom is the church advancing in the political arena? There are only two—the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness. If we are not with Jesus, we are against Him. 

Perhaps like you, I have been following the news coverage of Calvary Chapel San Jose and its pastors, Mike McClure and Carson Atherley, ever since the media’s frenzy over the church holding Christmas Eve services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many churches that folded under the political pressure, Calvary Chapel kept their doors open during the California COVID lockdowns in the face of two years of litigation, fines in excess of $200,000, contempt proceedings, foreclosure actions, and jail threats. Pastor McClure remarked, “I respect the judge, and I respect what the law says. But there’s a bigger law. I have to get told, you follow God or you follow man. I have to follow what God’s word says.” Pastor McClure pointed to God’s Word in Hebrews 10:25 (NIV), which admonished the body of Christ to not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. 

I was ecstatic when I read the recent headlines that Calvary Chapel was vindicated by a California appellate court for their refusal to close its doors or back down from the state’s tyrannical COVID lockdown mandates. These mandates, as they pertained to churches, included extreme capacity limitations, face coverings, social distancing, and even a prohibition against singing in church! In the case of Calvary Chapel, the lower court granted county officials unfettered access to the church’s property to enforce compliance with the court’s order against it.  

On August 15, 2022, the California appellate court found in favor of Calvary Chapel and reversed the injunction, the contempt orders, and the monetary sanctions. The Court of Appeals ruled:

[W]e conclude that the temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions are facially unconstitutional pursuant to the recent guidance of the United States Supreme Court regarding the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion in the context of public health orders that impact religious practice (see, e.g., Tandon v. Newsom (2021) 593 U.S. __ [141 S. Ct. 1294] (Tandon).) As the underlying orders which Calvary Chapel violated are void and unenforceable, we will annul the orders of contempt in their entirety and reverse the orders to pay monetary sanctions.

This is a massive victory for not only Calvary Chapel but also all churches and pastors in the nation! When asked his feelings on the outcome, Pastor McClure remarked that while he was thankful for a judicial system that “still works,” even if he and his church were ruled against, “I could stand before God today and know I did the right thing. He said that this is evidenced by the fruit of people’s lives, which includes 800 souls who came to Christ and were baptized during this time. Pastor McClure said, “We would have missed all that if we would have closed the doors or we wouldn’t minister to people. A lot of people said that they wouldn’t be alive today. You know, and it’s not because they would have died of COVID. It would have been things that would be more self-inflicted.”

The victory secured by Calvary Chapel is precisely the reason the church can no longer abdicate its position on the mountain of government/politics! The government is coming against the church as never before. In my most recent book, Fight Like Heaven! A Cultural Guide to Living on Guard, I discuss how the church has largely abandoned the seven mountains of influence, including the mountain of government/politics, thereby allowing an increasingly hostile culture to take over our lives. When churches don’t stand up for biblical truth and bow down to the edicts of unholy governments, freedom is forfeited, the Good News is not preached, and lives are not transformed. Had Calvary Chapel and its pastors simply given in to the mandates, shied away from the controversy, closed the doors in the midst of persecution, and/or laid down in the court proceedings against them, religious freedom would have been rendered a serious if not fatal blow in California. Instead, as a result of their obedience, courage, and Holy Spirit boldness, the First Amendment right to freedom of religion still stands in California and, most importantly, lives and souls were literally saved by an uncompromised Gospel. 

The Word of God says:

Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God … the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God. 

—Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (NKJV) 

This is precisely the blessing and reward that God poured out on Calvary Chapel for its commitment to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, NKJV) and its willingness to tread on this mountain. Because they believed in the Lord, they were not “put to shame” but emerged victorious in earthly and spiritual realms (Romans 10:11, NIV).

Like Calvary Chapel, it’s time for the church to invade all seven mountains of influence, to fight like heaven, and kick hell out, no matter what the cost! This means taking on the mountain of government/politics to preserve our freedoms, establish justice and righteousness according to God’s Word, and bring the Kingdom of God to a lost and dying world! Church leaders who fail to do this will give an account to God for both their actions and inaction. My prayer is that churches like Calvary Chapel will spur others on to love and good deeds and dare to tread on this perilous yet rewarding mountain!

Fight Like Heaven! covers this mountain and each of the other six—religion, economy/business, health/medicine, media/entertainment, education, and family—and how we can take them back for the Kingdom of God! Get your copy of Fight Like Heaven! HERE.

Also, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel, Drenda on Guard, for the latest coverage of national and global events that impact these mountains. 

When you subscribe, not only will you keep informed of current events from a Kingdom perspective, but you also will help me get the message out to other believers who want to live on guard—and to those who need to hear Gospel truth!

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