By Andrea Widburg
One of Jesus’s last acts before his crucifixion was the incident we know as “the cleansing of the temple,” when he thew the money changers out of the Temple in Jerusalem for defiling God’s house. That image came inexorably to my mind when I saw the video of a Canadian pastor, through sheer force of will, sending eight COVID cops, many of them armed, out of the church.
Visually, the video is simple but compelling. The church is on the second story of a building with a stairway leading directly from the front door up to the place where the congregation assembles. A masked female spokeswoman has climbed all the stairs. Behind her are seven police officers, in uniform, and all heavily armed with guns, cuffs, safety vests, and the ubiquitous and useless cheap paper masks.
The woman is trying to speak but there is a voice from behind the camera that thunders “Get out!” No matter what she says, he tells her some variation of “Out! And don’t come back unless you have a warrant.” The police stand quietly watching their spokeswoman as she is repeatedly prevented from saying her COVID shtick.
Every time the woman tries to speak, the man is clear. “I don’t want to hear anything. Out of this property immediately. I don’t want to hear a word. Out! Out!”
He doesn’t get physical. He doesn’t threaten her. He doesn’t waste too many words. She backs down a step. And she backs down another step. And the policeman who climbed the stairs with her starts backing down too.
When they move too slowly for him, the man begins to call them “Nazis” and “Gestapo.” Now, normally, I’m opposed to the operation of Godwin’s law which holds that, sooner or later, every argument devolves into one side calling the other something to do with the Nazis. (The law is directed at internet arguments, but it applies generally to the world today.) However, what we see in the video is heavily armed police invading a house of worship during Holy Week. Moreover, they’re doing so as part of a year-long complete denial of civil liberties. What makes the loss of civil liberties even more serious is that the experiences of Florida versus New York, and of schools demanding masks versus those that do not, show there’s no serious evidence that masks make a difference.
My suspicion is that the masks worsen things because people keep handling them. What really matters is that people wash their hands more and keep them away from their faces – the same as always when dealing with a virus.
But back to that man. Eventually, the police sheepishly retire, completely bested by his refusal to be intimated. In the second video, the man, tells everyone watching that all free people must stand against this tyranny. He describes how Germany has completely given itself over to the vaccine passport madness and says that, if Canadians don’t fight back, the same will happen there. He knows he may get arrested (indeed, in Canada, will probably get arrested), but he’s willing to take a stand nevertheless.
Will it surprise you to learn that this brave man is Polish? It didn’t surprise me. Artur Pawlowski, the Pastor of the Cave of Adullam Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is clearly old enough to have lived under the Soviet Union’s totalitarian occupation. He knows what ascendent socialism looks like and it’s not pretty.
Watching Pawlowski, I had to wonder if he was inspired by Jesus’s courage in ejecting the money changers from the temple. He knows that he has to answer to someone higher than Justin Trudeau.
As for the rest of us, the window of time within which we can act with courage and integrity (and, you’ll note, without violence or threats) is closing fast. If we wait too long, all action will be illegal.