A coalition of American pastors who have declared they will "never again" comply with government orders to close their churches grew from just over 90 to more than 1,200 less than a week after TheBlaze first told its story.
As of publication, a total of 1,212 Christian church ministers from a wide range of denominations have now signed on to the Acts 5:29 Statement, a declaration that denounces the restrictions imposed on houses of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic as unconstitutional. Affirming biblical commands taken from Acts 5:29 and Hebrews 10:25, these pastors say, "We must obey God rather than men" and that they will not "neglect to meet together" by ceasing to assemble for worship.
"As a national coalition of pastors and churches, we reject any presidential or gubernatorial decree requiring us to disobey the will of God. We will resist any attempt by a federal state or local official to restrict or prohibit the free exercise of our religion or place restrictions thereon," the statement reads.
It is a call to action for Christian ministers to resist what in their view are unlawful edicts by governments to prevent their congregations from meeting to worship God.
"Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. Implicit in Jesus' statement is that evil is on the defensive and that the Church is to be moving forward in victory. Gates are for defense, The Church is on the offense," said Pastor Stephen Mannion of Faith United Methodist Church in Lancaster, New York.
He drafted the statement with the assistance of Rev. Bill Cook, founder and CEO of America's Black Robe Regiment, an organization of politically active Christian pastors dedicated to preserving "the Blessings of Liberty."
"In the last 24 hours the Church has sent a clear message to the spirit of the age that she will move forward as one," Mannion said. " I am grateful for the response of clergy across the country as we have now climbed to well over 1200 signatories of 'The Acts 5:29 Statement.'
"Let the Church of the one true God continue to link arms, moving forward in victory," he added. "I ask everyone reading this article to please share 'The Acts 5:29 Statement' to your sphere of influence. NEVER AGAIN!"
BlazeTV host Glenn Beck discussed the declaration on his radio program Tuesday, calling it "vitally important."
"It is time that we take a stand. It is time that we do things the right way and peacefully draw the line in the sand. You can arrest us if you want, but I know who I serve. I will not violate the conditions of my first citizenship to meet the demands of my second citizenship," Beck said.
"I am first a member of a kingdom. A kingdom of God," he continued. "And he is my only king. He is my only ruler. I have agreed to live under the laws of the Constitution and to protect and to support that Constitution. That's what I have to do, to really secure my citizenship in the United States of America: support the Constitution and defend it, if called upon.
"But when you go extra constitutional. When you're asking me to do things that you constitutionally don't even have the authority [to do]. But instead, the Constitution bars you from doing that specific thing, I will not violate. You can't ask me to, because you're in violation. You're in violation of your second citizenship. I'm holding true to it. And it is all of our [responsibilities] to stand up."