What battles are worth fighting? Should you wear the mask? Take the shot? Bake the cake?
In many ways, the questions are often very personal. And from the Christian perspective, the issue of conscience also plays a key factor.
For example, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop considers creating a pink cake with blue frosting (for a gender “transition” celebration) to be a battle worth fighting. Could he have baked that cake without violating God’s Law? Perhaps – but certainly not without violating his conscience. And because refusing to bake a cake does no violence to God’s Law, Phillips is on solid biblical ground when he refuses to make the cake and opts to fight that battle, whether he wins or loses.
Or consider Gabe Rench, of Moscow, Id., who was arrested for refusing to wear a mask during his church’s outdoor Psalm-singing event downtown. Rench could have worn a mask – or he could have chosen to stay home that day – but the freedom to gather publicly (without a mask) was a battle he thought was worth fighting.
I don’t envy them (though perhaps I should, cf. James 1:2), but I’m glad that both Phillips and Rench were willing to risk their personal livelihoods for such matters. Despite the personal pain their ordeals no doubt brought, their examples can positively impact countless people.
It’s true that pragmatism and strategy might come into play for some people when making these sorts of decisions. For others, the principle of the matter and the strength of conscience are stronger factors. But what all Christians need to think about is the justice of such causes, and how we respond to those honest Christian men and women who do choose to “fight” a righteous battle, even if we would not personally “pick that fight.”
Rench could have stayed home, Phillips could have acquiesced – but since they didn’t, should the larger Christian community support them – not on the grounds that we would have made the exact same decision as they did – but on the grounds that they are on the receiving end of injustice?
I hope all Christians would agree that supporting Phillips and Rench, for example, is the correct thing to do if we are to “learn to do good, seek justice, [and] correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17).
And so, we come to the case of Lancaster County man Barry Durmaz. Like Phillips and Rench, Durmaz has violated no divine law, broken no personal contract, harmed no one, and damaged no property. And yet, the state of Pennsylvania is forcing him to pay what can only be deemed as extortion money to make amends for his great “crime” of driving peacefully on the common roadways of the state. And since he has not paid the bullies, the county apparatus of tyranny has begun to shift into gear with the issuance of a warrant for Durmaz’s arrest.
Why didn’t he just pay the fines? Well, why didn’t Phillips just bake the cake, or Rench just put on the mask?
And, to give a biblical example, why didn’t the Apostle Paul just leave the prison quietly when the civil government instructed him to? In Acts 16:36 we read that the magistrates sent orders for Paul to leave the prison, but Paul thought this was a battle worth fighting, and so he responded: “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out” (Acts 16:37).
Paul could have walked out of that prison cell. To do so would not have been wrong. But he didn’t.
Would we mock a Christian today who acts in a similar manner? Would we call him a “crackpot” for making such a big deal about the details of his prison release?
Or what about a man who recognizes that the tyrannical behemoth of the department of transportation is an institution that the law of God provides no justification for, and it now exists primarily to force Pennsylvanians to pay money for the “freedom” of being allowed to travel.
Crackpot? Or perhaps this is a man willing to fight a righteous battle.
Let’s get a few things straight. First, the biblical vision of society provides absolutely no basis for a civil government running around fining and arresting people for driving on roads without pieces of metal on their bumpers or plastic in their wallets. The civil rulers are only authorized by God to punish evil (cf. Romans 13:3-4). Driving on a roadway, harming neither person nor property, is not evil.
Second, as is almost always the case, the state and county government care nothing about justice, but only about money. Just as Amos Miller was fined, not because the USDA cared about safety, but because they could use the legal loopholes to extract money from the natural farmer, so too do Durmaz’s fines have nothing to do with justice.
And, third, if everyone followed Durmaz’s example and peacefully resisted the unbiblical, arbitrary, and onerous vehicle code of Pennsylvania, the county government would likely be forced to relent without executing a single arrest warrant.
Because true justice and righteous law would never lead to a man going to prison for committing non-evil acts, we should not sit in judgment on his conscience, but rather join him in calling on the civil magistrates to rule justly, even if we are unwilling to personally go to jail over the matter.
It’s true that I haven’t personally chosen to fight this battle. I have submitted to the bullies. I let them take my lunch money for the “privilege” to travel. Maybe that’s the most pragmatic decision. Or, maybe I simply need more faith. At this point, I don’t know. But one thing I do know: Barry Durmaz is willing to go to jail as a matter of principle and conscience, and I have no solid basis to condemn that.
And, when all is said and done, there might just be some providential strategy at play that none of us, perhaps not even Durmaz, fully understand. And so, lest I find myself opposing both true justice and the Lord of true law, I can only support this cause in whatever way I can.
Chris Hume is the managing editor of The Lancaster Patriot. He is responsible for managing customer service, sales, and content across all The Lancaster Patriot’s print and digital channels. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ChrisHume1689 on Twitter.
I agree that God’s people ought to support Barry but how can we effectively do so when we do not KNOW what we need to KNOW in order to be effective? To me, Roman 13 is addressed to God’s people who are only subject to “criminal law.” However, civil law is municipal law and pertains solely to “citizens” and “inhabitants” domiciled in the United States.
The Declaration of Independence clearly states that it is self-evident that all MEN are created equal and that they all are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that no one can lawfully take from them and that they cannot or should not voluntarily give up. After all these rights are gifts from our Creator and it would not be wise to give up a gift from God.
Somehow the adversary has to trick us into unknowingly giving up our right to travel on highways that the PA DMV acknowledges are OPEN to the public for the purposes of vehicular travel as a matter of right or custom in consideration for some franchise or privilege like using the public highway as a place of business to transport persons or property for hire. One must register such vehicles used in the transportation of persons or property for hire, compensation, or profit because the highways are NOT OPEN for commercial purposes without permission or license.
So how do they trick us?
The PA DMV has a Fact Sheet entitled LICENSE TYPES & RESTRICTIONS that reads, “In Pennsylvania, driver’s licenses are issued specifically for the CLASS and TYPE of vehicle you OPERATE. Therefore the class of driver’s license you SHOULD [not shall] have depends specifically upon the TYPE of vehicle you operate. Generally speaking, the majority of APPLICANTS for a Pennsylvania driver’s license will be OPERATORS of regular PASSENGER vehicles, pick-up trucks, or vans.”
Clearly, Barry has the right to use highways that are OPEN to the public for the purposes of vehicular travel as a matter of right and he would not be required to apply for a “certificate of title,” for the vehicle since it would a “family effect” and as such would not be required to be registered. And, he would not be required to apply for a ‘driver’s license” to “operate” a commercial “passenger car” if he is not going to USE the automobile or family car in the transportation of persons for hire, compensation, or profit.
The first thing one must do is actually read the Vehicle Code before one applies for anything. Since the “majority of applicants” for a Pennsylvania Driver’s License WILL BE OPERATORS of regular PASSENGER CARS, pick-up trucks, or vans then wouldn’t it be WISE and see how the DMV defines these terms?
What is a “regular passenger vehicle?”
“Passenger car.” A motor vehicle … designed PRIMARILY for the TRANSPORTATION of PERSONS and … PRIMARILY USED for the TRANSPORTATION of PERSONS. Section 102 Definitions in Title 75.
if your car is designed primarily for the transportation of persons (paying passengers) but is not being used for the transportation of persons then it is not by this vehicle code definition a “passenger car.” So what is it? It is a private family automobile used only for private family traveling purposes on highway that are OPEN for traveling purposes as a matter of right.
“Transportation.” The movement of goods or persons from one place to another, by a CARRIER. Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th. Edition
“Carrier.” An individual or organization ENGAGED in transporting PASSENGERS or GOODS for HIRE. Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th. Edition.
“Engagement.” A CONTRACT or AGREEMENT that is characterized by the exchange of mutual promises such as an engagement to TRANSPORT PASSENGERS FOR HIRE. Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th. Edition.
If Barry is not USING his family car for the transportation of persons for hire then he is not an “individual” carrier engaged in the transportation of persons or goods for hire and therefore why would he register his private family car as a “passenger car” which would be registering it as a “commercial vehicle.”
What is the definition of the term “commercial driver?”
“Commercial driver.” A PERSON who is either a commercial driver’s license HOLDER as defined in Section 1603 (relating to definitions) OR who is [simply] DRIVING A COMMERCIAL VEHICLE.
if you have registered your family car as a “passenger car” and you are driving your family car that is registered as a commercial passenger car then you will be presumed to be a commercial driver.
Why would you register your family car as a “passenger car” when you are not going to USE it in the transportation of passengers or goods for hire, compensation, or profit?
“The diligent shall bear rule, but the slothful [lazy] will be under tribute.”
Finally, if you are diligent and inquire into this matter you will find in the LAWS OF PENNSYLVANIA in Section 2. Section 1301 of Title 75 as it is amended the following;
(a) General rule. — It is a summary offense for any PERSON to drive or for an owner knowing to permit to be driven upon any highway any vehicle OF A TYPE REQUIRED TO BE REGISTERED under this chapter which is not registered or for which the appropriate FEE (tax) has not been paid when and as required in this title.
HELLO? If there is a “type required to be registered then there must also be a type that is NOT REQUIRED to be registered – such as a private family car used only for traveling purposes on highways that are OPEN for vehicular travel as a matter of right.
Now if you go to the Vehicle Code and read Section 1301 you will find a slight change of wording.
Section 1301. Registration and certificate of title required.
(a) Driving unregistered vehicle prohibited. — No person shall drive or move and no owner OR MOTOR CARRIER shall knowingly permit to be driven or moved upon any highway any vehicle which is not registered in this Commonwealth unless the vehicle is exempt from registration.
As you can see, the PA DMV changed the wording. In the Act, we find the vehicle in view is a “vehicle of a type required to be registered” and in the code, we find the vehicle in view is “any vehicle unless the vehicle is exempt from registration.
“Not required to be registered” is not the same as “being exempt from registration.
Another difference is the addition of the word “or motor carrier.” If “no owner” shall permit to be driven ANY vehicle that is not registered then wouldn’t that include the VEHICLES owned by motor carrier owners as well? Why did the legal minds that promulgated this regulation add the words “or motor carriers” and omit the words “of a type required to be registered? Remember, the law is precise and YOU are supposed to KNOW the law. And, the courts have held that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
To answer this question one must be diligent and make sure they KNOW the various definitions of the word “or” and what it can mean.
Or – conj. A disjunctive particle is used to express an alternative or to give a choice of one among two or more things. It is ALSO used to CLARIFY what has already been said, and in such cases means “in other words,” “to-wit,” or “that is to say.” Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th. Edition.
Just for kicks and giggles let’s assume the word “or” in Section 1301 (a) is being used to CLARIFY the word “owner” in “no owner.” What would we have if we replaced the word “or” with THAT IS TO SAY? We would have “No owner, THAT IS TO SAY, no motor carrier shall knowingly permit to be driven or moved upon any highway any vehicle which is not registered …”
Are you a “motor carrier?”
“O what tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
If we are going to support Barry then why not join together and demand the Department of Transportation and the PA DMV agree with us that family cars are not vehicles of a type required to be registered unless it is primarily being used for the transportation of passengers for hire, compensation or profit in which case it would be a “passenger car.”
If Barry was not using his family car as an individual carrier then his family car was not required to be registered and if it was it was registered by mistake then Barry should correct that mistake. But even if Barry’s car was registered if he was not engaged in the transportation of passengers at the time of the stop then he was not “operating” the passenger car at the time. What a web of deceit.
“it’s not what you don’t KNOW that will hurt you, it’s what you KNOW FOR SURE that just ain’t so.”
We need to work hard to agree with our adversary the PA DMV while we are on the way with it to court lest it delivers us to the judge and he delivers us to the SHERIFF and he cast us into prison until we pay every penny.
Nothing in the above is legal advice. It is only the result of my attempt to be diligent to know who I am and where I stand in relation to the PA DMV. If anything I have written above is in error then please correct my errors. We are seeking the truth about the lawful use of public highways, not trying to beat the system with some unlawful scheme.