By Daniel Bobinski
On Easter Sunday in Emmett, Idaho, close to 200 people gathered for a worship service in an old warehouse despite Governor Brad Little’s “stay-home” order. Local businessman and volunteer pastor Diego Rodriguez sought the help of Ammon Bundy to promote the service. Bundy, known for his family’s stand against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada in 2014, has been a vocal opponent of the Governor’s stay-home order, claiming it’s not Constitutional. The Emmett police chief was aware the service was being held, but did not send officers to the event.
One man in attendance, who gave his name only as “Mike,” said he came because he believed the Governor was wrong in issuing the order and he wanted to exercise his rights. Mike, who wore a face mask and gloves, said he was a state employee but would not identify which department.
A woman named Sarah, who also would not give her last name, came with her husband, children, and her father. Sarah said her family attended because they believed they had the right to gather with others in worship, and that the governor did not have the authority to constrain that right.
Rodriguez opened the service, saying, “The pulpit has never been a place, historically, that is supposed to ignore the current events of our day, particularly when oppression and tyranny is involved. Church is a place where people can come for guidance, instruction, inspiration, and healing, deliverance, and most of all, the truth.”
Before Rodriguez delivered his Easter message, the microphone was given to Bundy, who said that people are physical beings who “require association, who want to be with each other. We thrive on that. It is part of our life; it is part of liberty.”
“When your liberty has been taken from you, then you begin to understand how important it is,” Bundy said, “We must stand up, and not allow that it be taken again, and that we not allow it to be taken from others.”
“Where there is Christ, there is liberty,” Bundy said. “When you believe in Christ – when you believe in what He taught and the example that He showed us, you will never infringe upon your neighbor’s rights. And if you understand what He taught, you will not stand around and let others’ rights be infringed upon. Therefore, where there is Christ, there is liberty.”
Following Bundy’s brief remarks, the microphone was given to Wayne Hoffman, President of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Hoffman said he remembered somebody once telling him that fear was the work of the devil and the tool of tyrants. He also said he was sure that, “Brad Little and other elected officials around the world don’t think of themselves as tyrants, so it’s up to us to encourage them – to educate them – to remind them of our Constitutional principles and why those principles are so important.” Hoffman said those principles are, “natural rights that can’t be taken away from anybody.”
Hoffman closed his remarks by saying, “We shouldn’t have to live in a world where a church service is a big news story.”
In an interview after the service, Hoffman said he believes governors locking down their states are driven in large part by fear of bad publicity. “Politicians are risk-averse,” he said. “They don’t want videos of grandma with her last gasp of air and somebody demanding that somebody do something.”
However, Hoffman also said that Governors locking down their states is, “a higher level of tyrannical behavior that requires us to step it up a little bit. We have to say things we’ve never said before to any politician.”
In an interview prior to the service, Bundy said “We have something called the Bill of Rights, and the very first amendment to the Constitution says we have the right to assemble, we have the right to worship. But it really doesn’t say that. What it says is the government has no right infringe upon that.”
Posters passed out after the service quoted an 1866 comment from the Supreme Court:
“The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government.”
After the service, the person overseeing security reported seeing drones in the parking lot taking pictures of license plates. A later phone call to the Emmett police department revealed that both the sheriff and police departments were aware the church service was going on, but that nobody at either agency had notified the dispatcher that any drones had been launched.
As of Sunday evening, April 12, Idaho public health officials report a total of 27 coronavirus-related deaths in the state. As of this writing, the Institute for Heath Metrics and Evaluation predicts that by August 4, a total of 61 Idahoans will have died from coronavirus-related issues.
By way of comparison, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 58 deaths from the flu during the last flu season (2018-2019), 101 flu-related deaths the year prior, and 72 flu-related deaths the year before that.
Several Idaho representatives have publicly urged Governor Little to rescind his stay-home order. Additionally, Christopher Boyd, county prosecutor for Idaho’s Adams county has published an open letter to the Governor requesting the Governor rescind the order, and Sheriff Daryl Wheeler of Bonner County has done the same.
Multiple messages from UncoverDC left with the Idaho Governor’s office this past week seeking comment about the requests to rescind have gone unanswered.
Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a certified behavioral analyst, best-selling author, columnist, corporate trainer, and keynote speaker. He’s also a veteran and a self-described Christian Libertarian who believes in the principles of free market capitalism – while standing firmly against crony capitalism.