I went to Concord, NH for the Christian Worship Service (Facebook event link here in case the ReOpenNH page changes) held on May 16th, 2020 in defiance of New Hampshire Governor Sununu’s emergency orders, specifically orders number 16, 17, and 40. As the service wound down, I left for Bethel, ME. I ignored Maine Governor Mills’ quarantine orders which require anyone arriving in Maine to quarantine except for using “essential services” for 14 days. I had a meal at the bar at Sunday River Brewing which is open in defiance of Governor Mills’ orders. I did not wear a face covering despite Governor Mills’ orders requiring one while in public. I bought some doughnuts and beer to bring back with me.
According to the event details the service starts at noon on May 16th, 2020 with a ten to fifteen minute fellowship followed by an opening prayer and modern Christian music. After the music, we would listen to sermons from local preachers. There would be a final prayer and song, then time for more fellowship and prayer circles.
Since I left Catholic school, I have not attended a religious service that was not a funeral or a wedding. I am no longer religious. I decided to attend despite not being religious because Sununu’s orders are wrong. The orders interfere with religious people worshiping as they see fit. Sununu graciously allows virtual services or drive-up services, but go into a church if there are more than a magic number, as determined by Sununu, of people? No. Illegal. This is wrong. So I joined the service.
Before I talk about more about the day, I read the NH RSA (New Hampshire’s Revised Statutes Annotated, which are the state’s law code) which the event organizers linked in the event description on the ReOpenNH webpage but not on the facebook event page. The event organizers say this RSA which “allows Gov. Sununu to declare a state of emergency provides for a suspension of a very specific set of laws, but not Constitutionally protected rights.” I don’t see that. I see no explicit mention of suspending laws in the RSA. I see no mention of Constitutionally protected rights. I see one part which reads “To perform and exercise such other functions, powers, and duties as are necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population.” To me, that looks like an open-ended grant of power allowing the Governor to do whatever he wants as long as he can claim it is promoting and securing the safety of the state’s civilian population.
I arrived in Concord late. I left my house a bit too late and I was not expecting near normal levels of traffic. Downtown Concord was also busy. The shops are open again, though with restrictions during this part of “Stay At Home 2.0”. I found a place to park and paid as parking enforcement is “essential.” I put my bandana on. I wore my bandana over my face not because of any worries about Lil Rona, but for reasons I won’t go into here.
I arrived as the first preacher was speaking. I took a few pictures of the crowd. I saw only three people openly carrying firearms. They were all carrying AR variants. I saw no open carry of handguns. I’m certain I was not the only one carrying a concealed handgun. The crowd was about 250 or so people. I noticed the crowd had many children. This event seemed to be a family affair. I can count the number of people, including me, wearing face coverings on both hands. Almost everyone did not wear a face covering.
I listened to the first preacher. The part of his talk that I heard involved him talking about a meeting with legislators he had. He asked them if any had a Bible. None said yes. He asked if any had copies of the United States Constitution. None said yes. He asked if any had a copy of the New Hampshire Constitution. A few said yes. He criticized them for not having the country’s foundational documents. I got an impression that he wanted legislators to not only consider the NH and US constitutions but the Bible in making laws. I was not impressed.
The second preacher referenced Romans 13. He said that many Christians reference Romans 13 as to why Christians must obey the government. He says they do not read the whole thing. He said Romans 13 requires resistance to government overreach. He also talked about how the early Church defied the government by holding services.
I read Romans 13 at the link above. I don’t see how Romans 13 requires resistance to government overreach.
He diverged into abortion. He talked about how you can’t be a Christian and support abortion. He talked a lot about abortion.
Then he talked about the 2nd Amendment. He hopes he does not need the 2nd Amendment to defend his liberties, but will exercise his 2nd Amendment rights if he has to. He lifted up the right side of his shirt. I couldn’t see what he revealed because of where I was. I assume he showed off to the crowd that he was carrying a concealed handgun. During this part of his sermon, I saw Bad Muzzle Discipline Guy wave his AR around, and yes, as he waved the AR he pointed the muzzle at some of the crowd.
When the second preacher finished, he made a point of saying he does not hate the governor and prays for the governor.
I noted some guys carrying signs referencing Article X of the New Hampshire Constitution. I always thought this was a silly provision because what government is going to recognize a right to armed rebellion? If shooting starts, the government is going to say, “Oh, right, Article X says we have to allow this. We’re just going to roll over and die.” Sure, and I have a bridge to sell you.
The last speaker was the Catholic priest who spoke at the last rally. He started out with some jokes about Catholics being the “Frozen Chosen” about the lack of interaction between the congregation and priest at a Catholic service. He encouraged the crowd to participate in his sermon like they had been with the first two preachers. I noted he wore a black stole. He referenced St. John’s Gospel, specifically chapter 20 where Jesus appears to his Apostles after the resurrection. He mentioned that “Peace” is a bad translation of the Hebrew words used.
Odd, I thought Jesus would have spoken Aramaic.
He talked about how Jesus was doing more than wishing peace on the Apostles and was offering them healing for their fear so that they could go out into the world and spread God’s word. He was drawing an analogy between the Apostles and the people in attendance. Initially I thought he was encouraging the crowd to let others know that they aren’t alone in knowing the orders restricting life are wrong, but later I wondered if he was also hinting that they should proselytize.
After the priest finished, one of the organizers got up to speak. He criticized the legislature for abdicating its responsibilities.
I did not linger for the follow on prayers and mingling. I wanted to go to Sunday River Brewing.
The only police presence I noted during the service were the sounds of police sirens in the distance, and two Concord police officers patrolling near the State House as I left.
I drove to Bethel, ME from Concord, NH. The drive was very nice. Somewhere between Canterbury, NH and Concord, NH the speed limit on I-93 goes up to 70 MPH. The scenery is nice, though Spring has not arrived to the White Mountains Region or the Great North Woods Region. As you go north, you see fewer and fewer leaves on trees until they are completely bare. Once north of the Franconia Notch, I left I-93 and I used US-3 to NH-115 to US-2 to get into Maine. On the way along US-2, I drove through the Shelburne Birches, a stand of white birch trees in a memorial park honoring local war veterans. I found some pictures of the stand to share with you since I didn’t take any pictures of it. It was impressive even without the trees having leaves. Another thing I noticed on the drive before I arrived in Maine is that there were many people parked in the parking lots for the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) trailheads. At one point, the US Forest Service had closed all WMNF trailhead parking but is now slowly opening up the tailheads.
When I crossed the border into Maine, there was an electronic sign up telling everyone entering Maine to quarantine for 14 days. I ignored it.
Sunday River Brewing has opened for inside dining in defiance of Governor Mills’ orders. The state government pulled Sunday River Brewing’s licenses but the local sheriff says he does not expect criminal charges. Sunday River Brewing closed for a day or two, then reopened without state licenses. The business still has its Federal beer making license. Sunday River Brewing has been fined for every day they are open without licenses.
While typing up this article and researching a few things, I discovered that the day before I went, a state judge issued an injunction ordering the restaurant to close. Had I known about the injunction, I still would have gone.
I arrived at Sunday River Brewing without incident. The restaurant is open. As I pulled into the parking lot, it looked like there was a line to get in. I was wrong, this was a group leaving. The group stopped as they left to chat with some of the staff.
The owner had painted lines in the parking lot to show how far apart people have to stand so that he doesn’t come under criticism for packing people in. Since there was no line to get in, there was no need to pay attention to the lines on the ground.
I considered the Maine governor’s order about wearing face coverings in public. I did not put my bandana on because I saw no one in the parking lot was covering their faces. No one inside the restaurant wore a face covering. I walked in and stopped at the hostess station. I asked about getting a bar seat since I was by myself. The hostesses asked me to pick a seat away from others as they are trying to spread out all the customers. I picked a seat away from everyone else at the bar.
Sunday River Brewing is not serving alcohol, but will sell alcohol to go. I ordered an iced tea and a burger. The burger had two half pound patties of beef plus bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. It was delicious.
I did not see Rick Savage, the owner, while I was there. While making my final edits to this article, I found out that he was giving a speech in Augusta, ME the day I was at his restaurant.
While eating, I overheard someone at the bar saying that Mills said she was dragging out the emergency in order to receive more Federal funds. After I arrived at home, I found a story confirming what the person said:
The extension allows the state government to continue to “deploy all available resources to protect the health and safety of Maine people and to respond quickly and as-needed to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mills said. “It also allows us to continue to draw critical federal resources that help us equip frontline workers with needed protective equipment and to use Federal resources to support the state’s response.”
After I finished eating, I paid and tipped the barstaff.
I bought doughnuts and beer to go. I bought a Boston creme filled chocolate covered eclair, a doughnut covered in chocolate candies, and two lemon filled doughnuts. I bought six cans of beer. A mix pack of 16 oz cans which included two IPAs, a lager, and a coffee stout. I also bought two 32 oz cans: a porter and an Alt.
I left and drove back the way I came. I arrived home without incident.
While writing the first draft of this article, I ate all but one lemon filled doughnut and drank both of the IPAs and the lager. All the doughnuts were excellent. One of the IPAs and the lager were good, the other IPA I didn’t like.
The last lemon filled doughnut I enjoyed while making my final edits to the document. Like the others, it was excellent.
I know the ReOpenNH people want to have more civil disobedience gatherings. I do not know what they have planned. I will watch their website and see what happens next. If I am able to go to whatever they have planned next, I will do so and report back.