Travis Hunt

Travis Hunt

Senior Staff Writer

CAMAS VALLEY — A local church leader said he joined a lawsuit challenging Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home orders because he believes she is breaking the law.

Travis Hunt is the head teacher at Camas Valley Christian Fellowship. (His church doesn’t use the terms pastor or reverend, saying they are not biblical.)

Both Hunt and the church are plaintiffs in the suit, brought by a group of churches and churchgoers from around the state. They have argued their constitutional rights are being violated by the governor’s COVID-19 emergency orders limiting the number of people who may gather — for any event, church services included — to 25.

Hunt believes the governor is violating the principles laid out by American founding father James Madison, who wrote that a separation of powers between legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is necessary to prevent tyranny.

The plaintiffs are arguing in this case that the governor’s legal authority to issue stay-at-home orders during an emergency has a time limit under the law, and that she must receive authorization from the legislature to extend them.

“If no one takes a stand we will give up rights that were bought by the life and the death of many a patriot,” Hunt said.

A Baker County Circuit Court judge issued a ruling Monday that the governor’s stay at home orders became invalid after 28 days. If he’s right, that means churches and businesses should legally be able to reopen.

But the Oregon Supreme Court has blocked that order going into effect, at least for the time being. The supreme court was scheduled to hold a hearing on the case Friday.

Hunt said many people feel the need to gather with others, and at his church’s recent parking lot services he’s seen people cry.

Americans may think they’re antisocial, but the pandemic has taught us that we’re not, that we need a human connection from gatherings to hugs and handshakes, he said.

“I don’t know that America realized it. I don’t know if the world realized how much we really don’t want to be separate from each other. And I actually think that probably the underlying reason is we kind of love each other, honestly, and so we miss that,” he said.

Supporters of the governor’s position have said stay at home orders have helped flatten the curve, reducing the number of infections and saving Oregonians’ lives.

Hunt said he’s grateful to live in Douglas County, which has had no deaths and few cases of COVID-19. But he said he understands people’s concerns on both sides of the issue. He said there are people who think it’s the end of the world and people who think it’s a giant lie, that it’s just like another flu. He doesn’t want to wade into that bantering.

What he does hope is that everyone on both sides of the debate remembers to be loving toward the people on the other side.

“Regardless of the results of this COVID pandemic, regardless, those who are still here are going to have to live with each other and if we can’t live with each other in love and respect then we will have lost something greater than just a wave of illness that made its way through,” he said.

Hunt said he’s been criticized by other Christians, some of whom have quoted the book of Romans from the Bible, which speaks of submitting to governmental authority. However, Hunt said the Apostle Paul, who wrote the book of Romans, is depicted elsewhere in the Bible as appealing a governor’s decision to Caesar, a greater authority.

And that, Hunt said, is what he is doing in this case.

“I’ve appealed to the authority which is greater than the governor and asked that authority, ‘Is what the governor’s doing just?’ And if the end result is yeah, the government of the United States says what she is doing is legal, fair and just, well then that’s the world I live in,” he said.

If the plaintiffs succeed and the governor’s orders are invalidated, he hopes that doesn’t lead to risky behavior. People should still take precautions like wearing masks, he said.

“If all of her executive orders are null and void, please, everyone still for the sake of love take the precautions necessary to protect the life of other people. Don’t just go crazy with your rights. Set aside your rights for the sake of love for others,” he said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(13) comments

Mike

Nine cases of COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus, are now linked to the May 10 service held by the Assembly of God in the Mendocino County city of Redwood Valley.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/more-covid-19-cases-linked-to-california-church-services/ar-BB14xjEA?li=BBnbcA1

Momos

Or, maybe the coronavirus is your god's way of testing your personal faith by forcing you to worship by yourself. I don't recall Jesus hiring lawyers to battle with the government.

Mike

Casey’s family restaurant in Roseburg is facing a $14,000 fine for re-opening its dine-in service, against Governor Kate Brown’s stay-home directive.

https://www.ijpr.org/business/2020-05-23/roseburg-eatery-defies-governors-pandemic-directive-is-fined-by-osha

Mike

Recent surveys highlight the partisanship associated with mask-wearing, showing 75% of Democrats report wearing them in public, while only 53% of Republicans take the precaution.

https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/face-masks-becoming-a-political-symbol-of-the-covid-19-era/article_0f3b0379-23c6-54da-a424-c2fd7360fe28.html

Mike

Bishops from the Washington State Catholic Conference responded to President Trump's calls on state governors to reopen churches, saying, "We will wait." The bishops indicated that they are not yet ready to reconvene in-person services.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/washington-state-bishops-respond-to-trumps-push-to-reopen-churches-we-will-wait/ar-BB14vczb?li=BBnb7Kz

Mike

What's next? Is President Trump going to order the Pope to open?

Mike

According to the Oregon Health Authority, the six counties surrounding Douglas County have had 33 new cases over the past 19 days.

S

I think Jesus is getting pretty disgusted with his flock; including his local sheep. However, here is a more national perspective on why God's evangelicals are anxious to gather from a global news source.

THE COVID VIRUS has been a gift from God,” began Ken Eldred. “The kingdom of God advances through a series of glorious victories, cleverly disguised as disasters.”

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Eldred noted, millions of Americans are turning to Christ, Walmart is selling out of Bibles, and online church broadcasts have hit record numbers.

But while religiosity was growing, there have been setbacks from the disease outbreak. “Satan has been busy too,” Eldred, a major donor to evangelical and Republican causes, explained. “The virus has messed up many of our plans involving our in-person meetings with voters.”

And the rise of mail-in ballots, Eldred added, would undercut voter identification laws, which have been a pillar of GOP election strategy. “The children of the darkness put early voting into this CARES package,” he grumbled, a reference to the $400 million for election assistance programs to states included in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Key Takeaways

United in Purpose is a group on the religious right that worked to grow evangelical support for Donald Trump in 2016. UIP’s 2020 strategy, as discussed on an April call, is to target religious Latino and African American voters.

Ralph Reed boasted of “data partners” who had identified 26 million key voters in battleground states, about three-fourths of whom they could target via Facebook.

Speakers expressed concern over the rise in mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following a brief prayer led by Eldred, in which he declared that “we have now turned the corner on the virus” and asked God for an end to coronavirus deaths, the business of the call got started: How Christian voters can be a force to reelect Donald Trump. For the full story go here: https://theintercept.com/2020/05/23/coronavirus-evangelical-megachurch-trump/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=The%20Intercept%20Newsletter

S

Hunt believes the governor is violating the principles laid out by American founding father James Madison, who wrote that a separation of powers between legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is necessary to prevent tyranny. AND . . . YET WE MUST FIND A WAY FOR CHRISTIAN VOTERS TO BE A FORCE TO REELECT TRUMP. Jesus Christ!

Mike

Not attending church won't kill anyone. Rushing to reopen might.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/not-attending-church-won-t-kill-anyone-rushing-to-reopen-might/ar-BB14rfge

Mike

Two southern churches forced to reclose after leaders, congregants get coronavirus.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/two-southern-churches-forced-to-reclose-after-leaders-congregants-get-coronavirus/ar-BB14kztD

Mike

Disastrous Arkansas COVID Cluster Spells Trouble for Church Openings

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/disastrous-arkansas-covid-cluster-spells-trouble-for-church-openings/ar-BB14jHM3?li=BBnb7Kz

Mike

If your business or church defies the Governor’s plan to reopen Oregon and somebody dies, don’t expect your insurance company to bail you out.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2020/5/8/21252579/gov-j-b-pritzker-stay-home-order-coronavirus-illinois-reopen-lawsuits-rich-miller-capitol-fax

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