About That Religious Exemption

On April 25, 2020, six weeks into ceasing Sunday morning worship at the directive of our governor, I preached a sermon entitled, “Who Says We Can’t Meet During the Virus?” It was an exposition of Romans 13:1-7. In it we spoke of “sphere sovereignty,” the teaching from Scripture that God has ordained three major “governments”—the family, the church, and the state. And as such, each was given certain responsibilities. Illustrated by a Venn diagram, these three government’s spheres have small portions that overlap (think Olympic circles) but most responsibilities assigned to the family, church, and state is unique to each. The message being, stay out of each other’s circle; it is not your responsibility.

The state, however, refuses to play by such rules. Historically (and in our day) the state’s circle becomes bloated, believing it can seize authority from the family and church, assuming power not designated to them. When they reach into a “cookie jar” where they do not belong, the family and church, instead of accepting their overreach, needs to slap their hand. We did so after ten weeks, reopening our church doors. The worship of God is a church matter, not an Olympia one, regardless what the governor says.

And now we are a year-and-a-half into COVID. Shutdowns and mask mandates have dominated our lives; and numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths drive the news cycle. “Science” parades out front, demanding we follow. And now there is the vaccine.

Mandatory edicts are beginning to be issued. The term “religious exemption” (at least for now) has been offered. In typical state form, however, it appears they believe they are the ones to decide whether an exemption can be claimed and supported. This is backward, of course, the individual’s personal faith and conscience is the arbiter, not politicians or business execs.

On August 11, your elders adopted the “Warrenton Declaration on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, and Authority.” We did so because we agree with the document and its biblical moorings. It does an excellent job delineating authority, showing that the Bible does not assert the sweeping authority the state often claims. We adopted it also to aid members who are being pressured, coerced, and forced to vaccinate but object. Some of our members are already being told they will lose their job if they do not succumb. The entire matter is nonsense.

Our church stands behind any of its members who wish to use “religious exemption” as their defense against the shot. We believe the adoption of the “Warrenton Declaration” will help support their case, belonging to a church that supports the document. Upon reading it (see link below), you may wish to sign it too, as many of your church officers have decided to do. Stand strong.

Link to “Warrenton Declaration on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, and Authority” (https://warrentondeclaration.com/)

On Behalf of the Elders,

Pastor Rich Hamlin
August 12, 2021

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