As we all know by now, last Tuesday was a big night. The GOP took back the governor’s seat in Virginia and, as the next day wore on, a Republican truck driver who spent the bulk of his $153 campaign war chest on donuts unseated a Democratic incumbent in New Jersey (although as of Friday, the incumbent was apparently still refusing to concede and demanding a recount). But amidst the sound and fury that was Election Night 2021, which included the victorious trumpeting of elephants and the braying of donkeys in defeat, was a ballot measure in Texas.
Proposition 3, which passed in the Lone Star State 925,447 to 557,093, is an amendment to that state’s constitution that reads: “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not enact, adopt, or issue a statute, order proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services, including those conducted in churches, congregations, and places of worship in this state by a religious organization established to support and serve the propagation of a sincerely held religious belief.”
According to the Texas Values website, the proposal, which was passed by the legislature as Senate Joint Resolution 27, simply prohibits the government from closing churches or other places of worship. Texas Values cited the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of government closures.
Naturally, the proposal was not without its detractors. Americans United for Separation of Church and State commented that the proposal would make it difficult for the government to protect citizens during pandemics and disasters, gives special treatment to houses of worship, and is unnecessary in the wake of two prior bills that did essentially the same thing. The organization links to a letter signed by 24 faith groups* of varying backgrounds that also opposed the proposal. The letter stated, in part, that “Times of public crisis demand that all community leaders—religious, secular, and governmental—work together to find solutions. By giving religious gatherings a pre-emptive exemption from future emergency orders, we fear that these bills will unintentionally paint religious communities as part of the problem, not the solution, and thereby undercut our ability to partner with community leaders to defeat the crisis.”
Conversely, The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops supported the proposal.
David Marcus, in an op-ed for El Paso Matters, opposed the amendment on the grounds that, under the banner of religious freedom, health enforcement agencies would be prohibited from protecting the public during future crises. He worried the measure might even prevent fire marshals from ensuring that churches do not exceed a safe capacity or fail to maintain the necessary safety standards, or that it could keep health inspectors from enforcing regulations.
And to be fair, those opposed to the proposal made a valid point. COVID-19 is a real thing, and people are dying. That much is true. And changes have to be made in the time of crisis, providing there is a return to normal after the crisis has passed—which may have something to do with why Texans voted 64.42% to 37.58% in favor of Proposition 3.
Two weeks to slow the spread is turning into two years. And you can plumb the pages of PJ Media for examples of the way masks, quarantines, etc. have been applied unequally to patricians and plebeians. Add to that the incessant accusations of racism and trans/homo/islamo/whatever phobia that are leveled at anyone who doesn’t keep up with whatever is hashtagging at a given nanosecond, the political hysteria that magnified a single out-of-control demonstration while ignoring multiple riots that resulted in millions of dollars of damage and loss of life, an economy that has turned blue because it is floating in the toilet with the sanitizer tablets, and a humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, and people have simply had enough.
The Left made such a to-do out of January 6 because it could recast that episode as a violent revolution. But most Americans are not racist or violent, and I would even hazard a guess that many conservatives have mixed feelings when it comes to Trump.
The revolution—if what is happening can be called such—does not feature people hauling guillotines to the Bastille; it is played out by people going to the ballot box and re-taking control of school boards and local and state governments. These people, as Virginia showed, are not necessarily MAGA hat-wearing, gun-toting constitution-quoters. They are people who have had their fill of a government, media and society that treats them as either a commodity or an unfortunate symptom of American life. They aren’t violent, but they are sick, tired and bored of the crap. The collective American sponge is saturated with TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, genders, violence, lies, mixed messages, Newspeak, division and fear. People simply want to wring it out.
The powers that be have shown time and again that they cannot manage society but prefer to engineer it for their own purposes. I made the point to a health care provider the other day that it isn’t that people aren’t concerned about COVID-19, but the pandemic has been handled so poorly that many people simply do not believe anything they hear at this point. And that sentiment is behind the passage of Proposition 3 in Texas, the vote in Virginia, and “Let’s go Brandon.” The message to the patricians is clear: We don’t trust you anymore and we don’t believe you anymore.
The people may or may not become conservatives and I, for one, am loath to declare them so on the strength of a single election. I’d prefer people exercise their intellects and consciences rather than put on a red or blue jersey. The point is that these people have decided they do not want to sell their souls just to sit at the cool kids’ table.
* ADL (Anti-Defamation League), Alliance of Baptists, American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC), Baptist Women In Ministry, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Disciples Center for Public Witness, Disciples Justice Action Network, Equal Partners in Faith, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Fellowship Southwest, Interfaith Alliance, KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, Men of Reform Judaism, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Muslim Advocates, National Council of Churches, National Council of Jewish Women, Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Union for Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries, and Women of Reform Judaism.