Protests and Law


For several weeks government leaders and experts have cautioned that gatherings of large groups of people was dangerous. As a result, businesses, restaurants, and places of worship have been closed or reduced to limited capacity. The reason: to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Reasonable precautions and prudent mitigation can be appropriate to reduce the spread of a virus.
This past week, however, massive crowds of people have gathered in response to the killing of George Floyd. His death calls for justice and reflection on racial tensions in our nation. Yet, the issue at stake is not the cause of the gatherings per se. Instead, it is the mental gymnastics of our leaders to justify these gatherings. It would seem that the safety and health of our citizens and the rule of law, can be abandoned given the right ideological or political movement. Of course, a virus does not care which side of the ideological divide a person sits.
Meanwhile, the financial stability of our businesses and workforce, the education of our children, and the well-being of families and individuals have been deemed non-essential and restricted. While protests are legitimate in a free society, many people are justifiably angry when thousands can gather to protest, but a few family members cannot be at the bedside of a dying relative.
Does such hypocritical governing justify our own civil disobedience? Not necessarily. A law does not cease being legitimate when it is broken by those meant to enforce it. Our Lord reminds us: “Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.” We follow Paul’s advice to follow legitimate laws so that we, “…may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” Instead we must hold our leaders accountable to follow the laws they institute, or to revoke them when they are unjust or unneeded.