Rehoboth chastised for barring worship
On May 22, the pastor of a local Presbyterian church was denied access to worship on the public beach in the City of Rehoboth by the city manager. Pastor Dekker of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lewes had applied in writing the day before to the neighboring City of Rehoboth Beach for a permit to worship on the public beach. The next day Pastor Dekker received by email his official rejection from the City of Rehoboth. The rejection stated in writing that the City of Rehoboth was denying his permit application, and his access to worship on public property, because it would “mix church and state.”
Public property should be open to all. Anyone should be allowed to congregate on public property. Denying someone’s right to worship is blatant religious discrimination, and a flagrant violation of their civil rights no matter where it occurs. By doing so, the City of Rehoboth has denied Pastor Dekker and New Covenant Church their first amendment civil rights. They have the right to assemble, they have the right to freedom of speech, and they have the right to the free exercise of religious worship, regardless of where that worship occurs.
If this precedent is allowed to stand, there is no limit to the prohibitions that government can place on your freedom of religion. The only difference between denying them the right to worship on the beach, and denying a church bus access to the public roads, or preventing a prayer vigil in the town square is simply a difference of geography.
Some have suggested that the church just keep quiet about the discrimination, so they don’t offend anyone. Others have suggested that the church get an attorney and file suit with the City of Rehoboth. Neither course would be just. The first course would allow the discrimination to continue and affect other people, gradually getting worse over time. The other would simply be the use of force. And so, after much prayer and supplication to Almighty God, Pastor Dekker has been left with one option. We make our appeal to the Lord of Hosts to right this injustice.
This Independence Day Pastor Dekker was planning to hold a worship service on the public beach at the end of Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth. This worship service is in direct violation of the order by the city manager. The title of the sermon that Pastor Dekker will be giving is “A Line in the Sand.”
Regardless of your faith, all people should be highly concerned over this civil rights violation. If you do nothing when someone else’s right to worship is limited by the government, who will come to your aide when the government limits your own rights? The rights of conscience and freedom of worship are far more important than the consequences of this world.
We need your prayers. We need your support. Please tell your pastor/priest/rabbi/etc. Please join us as we draw A Line in the Sand.