by | May 8, 2020 | Christianity Today | 37 comments

Imagine with me: It is five years from now.  Your church is still seating people six feet apart. The State is still doing spot inspections of your sanctuary and bathrooms, and they can shut down services any time they wish to.

This is why we cannot let ourselves be classified as an ‘essential service.’ I believe that to do that would be to make a deal with the devil. No, I am not nitpicking. The church made this same horrible mistake 65 years ago when the Johnson Amendment made Christian organizations 501c3 corporations.

Pastor A.J. Nunes, one of our team leaders, brought this threat to my attention.

Walmart and Costco are examples of ‘essential services.’ They operate under the direct regulation of the Health Department and any other agency of State and Local government that wants a shot at them.

We must fight for religious freedom—not to be an ‘essential service’, as if we are a retail business. We want State governments to respect the church more than they respect box stores—a lot more.

How do we differ from stores under the Constitution? That is the question! The First Amendment places churches in a higher category of protection than stores. Religion is singled out as a protected entity.

Our goal is to ban Blue States from violating our rights by using the virus as an excuse for writing laws that gratuitously hinder our free exercise of religion. 

If Blue States can get us to agree with them that we are no better than retail businesses, they’ll do an end-run around the First Amendment.

Lyndon Johnson pulled a dirty trick like that on the church 65 years ago. A host of pastors opposed his reelection to Congress. His opportunity to shut them up came when fellow Congressmen begged for his vote that would allow them to pass a bill. He agreed to vote their way if they added his amendment that made it illegal for pastors to talk about politics.

It’s like when Nancy Pelosi refused to vote for the small business relief bill unless it included money for the arts. During a pandemic, she’s thinking about art!

Today, the National Council of Nonprofits uses the following insidious language to say why Christians want to get rid of this violation of free speech. “Although couched as attempts to promote religious freedom and free speech, the legislative proposals would have the effect of politicizing and thereby erasing the public’s high trust in charities, houses of worship, and foundations to benefit politicians and paid political consultants. In addition to legislative action, politicians encourage charitable organizations to endorse candidates, essentially encouraging them to violate the law.”

First, they say our quest is not really for freedom of speech: “Couched in attempts to promote freedom speech.” They are saying our fight to speak freely is not about freedom of speech? How sick is that? Next, they say we’ll lose money by losing high trust. Finally, they make a veiled threat, saying that we are breaking the law by exercising our constitutional right.

The Johnson Amendment is the poster child of the Democratic Party. It has never applied to anyone except conservative churches. Liberal and black churches have always been free to endorse candidates.

During Obama’s reelection campaign, Michelle Obama stood in the pulpit of a black Baptist church and told them, “It is your duty to Christ to vote for Barack Obama.” But the National Council of Nonprofits did nothing about that.

Trump overruled this vile law by executive order. It’s shocking how many pastors still don’t believe they are free to say anything political that they wish.

We lost that battle 65 years ago because of fear. We need to shake fear now and enforce the truth. We are a Constitutionally Protected Body. That is what we are fighting for!

California, we give you notice that we don’t want to trade our rights for a lower grade of freedom than is already promised to churches by the Constitution. We want you to take your hands off of us, because the law of the land guarantees it. We are not looking to Sacramento for permission to exist.

If any Blue State attempts to use this trick in order to illegally regulate us, either during or after the pandemic, we must be prepared and fully resolved to fight with all of our might—for the sake of lost souls, our nation, our congregations, and our families.

We will obey rational laws regarding health and safety. We will meet when God wants us to meet. We will fill our churches when God wants them filled. And we will sing and preach what God wants to hear. Those who spilled their blood during the American Revolution did so in order that a timeless document might be written—the greatest document of freedom the world has ever seen, outside of the Bible. Our Constitution guarantees us the right to say what Peter said to those who wanted to limit the church during his lifetime, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19b-20).



  1. megagenius

    If you tie the legs of chickens long enough, when you untie them the chickens will just lay there, because they now have been conditioned to think they are where they belong….IN BONDAGE. Many Christians need to be slapped out of their slumber. We need to not just pray. We need to watch and be spiritually alert.

  2. Maureen Cowley

    You are the Voice of the One, Crying Out in the Wilderness! The Forerunner!

  3. Bill Beaty

    Preach it loud, Mario!

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Mark Judy

    The Institutional “church” of the West has come under God’s righteous judgement, and it has been coming for a Long time……God was NEVER obligated to “bless” the Man-made, Man-operated abomination that usurped CHRIST as HEAD and the HOLY SPIRIT as DIRECTOR, and that Replaced the priesthood of BELIEVERS with PROFESSIONALS! The I.C.’s day is OVER………………….And for those with eyes to see & ears to hear, NOW is the time for Believers to BE THE BODY OF CHRIST, no buildings needed……..NO Professionals dictating THEIR agendas over the Holy Spirit’s!

  5. Eric

    It’s Democrat party, not Democratic Party.

    • fredsheltonministries

      Actually the official name is The Democratic Party, even though there is nothing democratic about that party, it is their official name.

  6. Annette Masters

    BUT GOD !!!!
    trust Him and PRAY that’s where the WAR is WON

  7. Annette Masters

    Then Action Disciple your congregation online so they will KNOW who they are in the Lord and Know Who HE IS in them try ficm.org.uk if you want to see your people set free

  8. Eric Padilla

    Let me see if I understand what guidelines the churches have to follow in order to open.
    Church guidelines to open buildings:
    Mostly I’m concerned with making sure we don’t touch each other, right? Like be 6 feet away and no hugging or shaking hands.

    It’s pulling families away from each other.
    I don’t know about you, but when I see my family I hug them. Same as in church, I give them a hug.

    Another concern I have is that now sports are starting up again (I’m looking forward to watching). In football and basketball they will be touching each other (body to body) and that will be okay? But no in church, why?

    And that is okay because that’s the way the game is played?

    I agree we need to do what it takes to start opening our buildings, but these guidelines have to be erased and greeting one with a hug or handshake return.


  9. barefootronko

    1st Samuel chapter 11 is exactly where we come to when we bargain with the enemy!

  10. Wayne Zeitner

    Is this a typo? “This why we can let ourselves be classified an essential service.” wz

    • mariomurilloministries

      Yeah Wayne it’s a typo. You got the original version that went out email alert. It was soon after corrected. I now reads, “we cannot allow ourselves…” Thanks for the heads up.

  11. Kim Denner

    I saw yesterday that President Trump issued an executive order declaring churches an essential business.

  12. Noel

    The very first line of the Bill of Rights reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,.. To me this demonstrated the preeminence of the Divine in the minds of the Founding Fathers. Before anything else, the relationship of mankind to its Creator is referenced. The opening lines of the Declaration of Independence highlight this also.

    The Preamble of the State Constitution in which I live reads: “We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution.

    Article 1 Section 5 reads: The state shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    The anti-God and anti-Christ leftists of today are carrying out the will of their father from old. The original rebellion to the rule and reign of the one true God is described in Scripture. They will meet the same fate. The Church is here to stay. We are not going anywhere until our Lord comes for His bride. The LORD rebuke you, satan!!

    Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-15
    Acts 1:7-11; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

    • megagenius

      The Constitution of the Kingdom of God Trumps the Constitution of the United States. What does the Constitution of the Kingdom of God Command? “I will therefore that men pray EVERY WHERE, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.” 1 Tim. 2:8. The Constitution of the Kingdom of God is non negotiable… period. Do not let the world squeeze you into it’s perverted mold of so called essential. The church is transcendent and enthroned with Christ right now. She is not of this world, so face the world’s essential and stomp it in the ground. Now THAT is most essential. “And the God of peace shall bruise satan under YOUR feet shortly”. See Romans 16:20

  13. Rudy or Judy Taylor

    Well said. Thank you.

  14. Richard Gyanny

    Pastor Mario! Please, pray for me that our Lord would heal my right elbow, completely. Thank you. May our God bless you, and your ministry.

    • mariomurilloministries

      In the Name of Jesus, I declare healing on Richard’s elbow!

  15. Dy

    The “social justice warriors” don’t have eyes to see that their “righteousness” is as filthy rags.

  16. NewHeavenOnEarth

    Thank you!

    Jesus is essential now and is to come! “Christ in you” is essential to this world! Arise, shine! Christ Light and Christ Glory! Arise, go, proclaim the message our Lord God Almighty gives us! Rise up! “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will give you His Light!” Ephesians 5:14

  17. Kathy Villar May

    Is anyone trying to get rid of the 501C3 or change it?

  18. liz

    Daniel had a worship routine. Three times a day he went into his room, sat in front of the window, and prayed to God. Then the king ordered that everyone had to pray to him and to no one else. Daniel could have closed the curtain. He could have moved away from the window. But he didn’t. The church has a worship routine and we should have never allowed ‘Caesar’ to stop it. Worship routine belongs to GOD, not the government. The church has a worship routine and pastors should have never allowed ‘caesar’ to stop it. Maybe fear has trumped faith.

  19. kingskid48

    I’ve noticed a few pastors waking up lately. By few, I do mean few, but it’s a beginning. There’s even one that posted an entire sermon online about the virus, its origins, globalists, and the end times. There was a study done of 450 online sermons a few months ago, with each word being monitored to find out how many pastors mention end times or the Book of Revelation. Out of 450 sermons, I think it was something like 5 or 6. Since 1/3 of Scripture deals with Prophecy, it looks like something is amiss in the pulpits. I’m not saying the virus has to be tied to end times directly, but if it isn’t a wake up call, since it has led to the near-total loss of freedoms and the control of the Church, what is it? If it isn’t time now for Church to repent of their lack of preparing the flock, then what time is it? If it wasn’t for evangelists and certain tv teachers, and the materials they offer, we’d be getting nothing at all.

  20. NeeterWoman

    Reblogged this on Neeter's Notes and Quotes and commented:
    The Church is more than “essential”, and WE THE PEOPLE need to stand together for our FREEDOMS– and not 6 feet apart!

  21. Margaret

    Great info. It’s been my prayer for years that any church that is serious about building the Kingdom of God should withdraw from the 501c3. Of course you cannot deduct your giving if you’re not a 501c3, but I would much rather have the presence and glory of God than to be able to take a tax deduction. When will the church wake up.

  22. Nancy Enke

    Ithank God for preachers who are not afraid to speak the truth .

  23. WordforWorld

    Federal judge stopped Kentucky Governor’s ban on mass gatherings from applying to religious services, allowing churches to re-start Sunday services. Tho he did say,” if social distancing is good enough for Home Depot and Kroger, it is good enough for in-person religious services, ” ADDING,” that unlike the stores, churches enjoy constitutional protection.” !!!!! This bit of good news ought to give us all cause to rejoice aloud, folks!! Article from CBN news today 5/9/20 by Lorie Johnson. Our God is awesome, Truth will prevail, The LORD IS THE TRUTH! Hang in there, Mario! It’s working, God is hearing the prayers of His people called by His Name. (Suggestions were made for people to observe social distancing and hygiene guidelines.)

  24. Gerald Novak

    Mario, I believe you could become the Martin Luther King Junior of the Christian church movement. All the pastors in this country need to realize that we are fighting for our very existence and they need to speak out about it. They are banning us from even attending our churches. We need a leader like you to meet with all the pastors and tell them to return their congregations to the churches all at once and defy this order.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • mariomurilloministries

      Thank you for your kind words. My work is not even a speck compared to the Civil Rights Movement. Not even a speck.



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