Dear Governor Herbert,
This current, difficult public health and political climate is presenting you (and all of us) with hard decisions carrying immense practical consequences. We want to thank you for taking a sensible, fact based, balanced approach with your guidelines for the protection of the public…including churches.
We know that other states, Nevada for instance, have singled out churches for more restrictive mandates than casinos and other drivers of their economies. Other states and municipalities have winked at uncontrolled protests while punishing churches. That, to us, is blatant anti-religious bias in violation of the U.S Constitution which, in turn derives its basis from the Law of God. We are saddened that the Supreme Court upheld their authority to do that. We agree with the dissenting opinions.
But that is not the point of this letter. We want to encourage you to continue to use the best available science in any future guidelines, applying them with an even hand to all sectors of the public sphere.
Christians are commanded to submit to the authorities that God has appointed over us as His ministers for reward and punishment (see Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17.) Christ himself submitted to the evil civil and religious authorities recognizing that they had no authority that was not given to them by God.
We want to continue submitting to the Utah state government in peace with joy, knowing that our submission is for “the Lord’s sake” and will ultimately result in reward from Christ at His judgment seat. (Romans 14:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10).
We are encouraged by the clear wording of the Constitution of the State of Utah (underlining added):
“Article I, Section 4.
The rights of conscience shall never be infringed. The State shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust or for any vote at any election; nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror on account of religious belief or the absence thereof. There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions. No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment.”
We are grateful for your leadership, and we plead with you . . .continue to respect the autonomy of the church. Please refrain from action, mandates or guidelines that would cause us to weigh our submission to the State of Utah against our God-given, Scripture-informed, prayer-empowered consciences. True churches of the Lord Jesus will follow the example of the early church when government mandates contradict the instructions in God’s Word (see Acts 5:29). Please do not single the church out for excessive restrictions.
You have thus far used your office to educate, guide and encourage. That is commendable. You are a “minister of God” (Romans 13:6). Your role is to punish those who do evil and commend those who do good. Because the Scripture about the nature and purpose of your authority uses the categories of “good” and “evil,” we exhort you to inform all your decisions using the Bible, and the Bible alone, to determine what is evil or good.
Please do not cave in to pressure from your fellow governors who are demonstrating hostility to churches. As God’s minister, stand firm in upholding religious liberty for all.
We make these requests and offer these exhortations with the respect for your authority demanded in the Bible. We cherish and obey the Bible because we believe that it alone was breathed out by the one and only eternal self-existent God (2 Timothy 3:16), that those who have been saved from God’s wrath by His grace alone through faith alone in the atoning Sacrifice of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8) will joyfully obey it’s precepts (John 15:10,11) and be rewarded by Jesus the Christ, the only Savior, at His judgment seat. (1 Peter 5:4).
We consistently pray for you and others in God-appointed positions of authority in our weekly services.
David Bernstein and Michael Waldrop
Pastors, Desert Ridge Baptist Church