Gov. John Bel Edwards’ on Wednesday hosted a press conference, where he was joined by Attorney General Jeff Landry. Their co-operation is viewed as extraordinary! Governor Edwards & Attorney General Landry have spent years challenging, questioning, and, in one way or another, resisting each another. But COVID-19 has changed all that!
Two days after Edwards issued sweeping orders limiting the size of gatherings to fewer than 50 people (shocking churches and pastors throughout La.), closing bars, movie theaters and casinos, and restricting restaurants to only take-out orders — and only days after U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, questioned the governor’s proclamation — AG Landry affirmed that the Governor was legally on solid ground with his Emergency Order to set these limitations in place.
”The Governor is acting with restraint and with consideration to individual liberties and freedoms, and I appreciate that," Landry said. "We are united in this goal. The governor and I are standing shoulder to shoulder, and that’s how serious a problem we face here!"
On Wednesday, Governor Edwards contacted me about arranging a conference call with the LFF pastors network, for a time of prayer, and Q&A. I, with Pastor Steve Robinson of Church of the King, and Chaplain Rodney Wood joined a handful of the Governor’s staff (careful to respect the 10 or less rule, no handshakes, etc.), at the GOSEP office for this conversation.
The governor thanked the 200+ pastors on the call from throughout Louisiana and recognized that during crisis, like Katrina and the floods of 2016, the churches were the first responders, the closest to the situation to help, and incredibly efficient at addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the impacted population – more so than government would be able. He echoed that we need the faith community to respond creatively…one more time!
During our hour long call, where dozens were unable to join because phone lines were jammed to capacity,the governor was asked: “how can we pray for you?”
His answer: “I’m asking for the wisdom to know what to do (in this crisis), and the courage to do what He instructs.”
Substantive questions were asked and discussed, but the most moving moment came when the man, perhaps recognizing his own human limitations and the scope of this threat, just paused, and overwhelmed, teared up as he communicated the gravity of the situation.
Sometimes in the political arena, we forget that we are not dealing with "Republicans" and "Democrats" but human souls made in the image of God and for whom Christ has assigned an imperative role. I, for one, appreciate this man’s earnest request for continued prayer!
LFF will be releasing details of a Prayer Initiative by next week’s end and I’m asking you to pause and pray for Governor Edwards right now, that God would grant him the wisdom & courage he has humbly requested!
Other items of note as we head into the weekend:
The Louisiana legislature has hit the pause button on the legislative session, at least through the end of the month, as the state battles COVID-19. We are awaiting updates from legislative leadership regarding expectations for committee hearings and bill procedures. Certainly, 2020 will look different in many ways.
The U.S. Senate has introduced a bill that would provide checks to middle-and-working-class Americans as a way to stimulate the economy and meet immediate needs.President Trump has said that he supports the idea, and leaders in Congress have as well. Checks would be issued to Americans who made less than $99,000 in 2018, or less than $198,000 for couples who filed jointly.
The U.S. Treasury has announced that the deadline for filing your taxes has been moved from April 15 to July 15.
LFF has cancelled its April 6th Pineville Town Hall. We hope to reschedule as soon as group prohibitions are removed and normal travel patterns can resume.
Some good news: Tom Brady has announced that he will continue his football career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, meaning that our Saints will get to conquer him at least two times per year!
As I wrote to you on Tuesday, I encourage you to see the temporary inconveniences of closed schools, stores, restaurants, and entertainment centers as an opportunity rather than a headache. Parents spending more time with their children is a great thing – no matter how it comes about. It may take some time, but our economy will recover. Our public assistance programs may be stretched, but I have faith that Louisianans will rise up to meet needs and take care of each other – as they always do.
This, too, shall pass. Continue to join us in prayer for the health of our nation and please continue to observe smart practices regarding personal hygiene and “social distancing.”
Enjoy the time you have together with your families during this unprecedented time.