The Rule of Law and Emergency Measures

It is a weird feeling to have a law system in a country and then all of a sudden in 3 months the rule book is drastically changed.

What is an emergency act? I’m still not totally sure. I am sure that lawyers who have studied the constitution would know a lot more than I do. What rules are in place to maintain the distinction between church and state during the imposition of an emergency act and to put temporal boundaries on an emergency act? Not sure… I would like to hear feedback. What kind of democratic laws and processes continue to abide under an emergency act? Not really sure. What laws bind the lawmakers during an emergency? Again, it is unclear. It seems like we are stepping into a brave new world that many didn’t vote for…

A lot of discussion has gone around about trust. We don’t trust our state. We don’t trust our scientific communities. Before I say anything about that. I should also make another remark. The state and the medical system does not seem to trust ecclesiastical authorities. Do we have freedom and authority to make prudent decisions in the light of the current chaos? It doesn’t seem to be so… Maybe we do! I just don’t know. It sounds like we are being given orders, but maybe they are just recommendations…

It is a legal jungle out there for churches. I think we are getting a better idea of what emergency measures look like in a secular nation rather than a Christianized nation like we had during the Spanish flu. The presence of the internet gives our civil authorities an excuse for their approach. But it is inherently a secular response.

As we head into the coming years we should be asking ourselves a multitude of questions about our emergency response. How important is the Church in times of emergency? What kind of freedoms are necessary to maintain during an emergency? What constitutes an emergency? What physical evidence of an emergency needs to be present in society in order to maintain emergency measures? Is it better to do waves of emergency, where society, or parts of society, are locked down in periods of 1-3 weeks at a time?

Emergency in a technological age brings us into a legal frontier. How do we continue to operate on our constitutional foundation on the frontier?

To lay down clear principles will only create trust. But the current morass of legalese and extreme measures for months on end with no end in sight will only create distrust. Safety and freedom should never be pitted against each other.

Photo by Damien Checoury on Unsplash

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